LAS VEGAS - Michael McDonald is still in the growing stages of his MMA career. It showed tonight as he struggled to deal with the pace and kicks coming from Chris Cariaso. McDonald, 20, won the fight via split decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 27-30, but Cariaso gave the 3-to-1 favorite a difficult time.
"Chris kicks really hard and his chin is really solid," McDonald said. "Usually when I hit people that hard, they go to sleep. Fortunately, I felt like I executed very well and was able to handle him in all aspects of the fight. I've got to let this win sink in a bit. I really want to eat some ice cream, get some rest and think about what's next."
McDonald (13-1) looked ultra-confident before the decision was read, but the nerves kicked in when the first judge gave the fight to Cariaso. The 30-27 for Cariaso wasn't outrageous. He pushed the pace throughout and landed more shots. McDonald knew what was coming and may have game-planned a little too much around counterstriking. He landed some solid shots but never really rocked Cariaso (11-3, 1-1 UFC).
In the opening fight, Renan Barao made a successful debut against veteran Cole Escovedo. Barao (26-1) was fighting for the first time in the UFc after a move over the Zuffa's smaller promotion the WEC. Barao was far from dominant, but his takedowns slowed the pace of the fight and nullified any striking advantage Escovedo (17-7) brought to the cage.