Michael McDonald worked over the smaller and quicker Chris Cariaso for two out of three rounds on Saturday night at UFC 130, edging Cariaso on the judges' scorecards (27-30, 29-28, 29-28).
Cariaso had problems from the start trying to wade through McDonald's reach advantage and powerful counters. McDonald caught Cariaso consistently in the first round with strikes, brutalizing him with straight punch, hook combinations that eventually downed him late in the round. Cariaso's speed and takedown game were easily handled by McDonald, likely hurting the confidence of Cariaso early.
Cariaso survived the first round after being stuck by McDonald only to endure more of the same in the second. McDonald intelligently defended against Cariaso's head kicks and combinations, countering with speedy combinations himself that tagged Cariaso in many of the exchanges. McDonald changed it up a bit by the end of the second, taking down Cariaso with ease to ensure a winning round.
Cariaso surprised by gaining top control and holding it for roughly three minutes in the third. He also worked McDonald into a potential omoplata after being countered by McDonald in the takedown department. It was just enough to steal the round. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to edge McDonald on the scorecards.
McDonald entered the contest riding a five-fight win streak with wins over Clint Godfrey and Edwin Figueroa under the Zuffa banner. Figueroa, who was a late replacement at UFC Fight Night: Nogueira vs. Davis, gave McDonald a run for his money in March, surviving the early onslaught and surfacing concerns from fans that he may not have the conditioning to outlast Figueroa. Fortunately for McDonald, he was able to take away the decision win along with a Fight of the Night bonus.
Cariaso amassed a 2-1 record in three appearances under the Zuffa umbrella, defeating both Rafael Rebello and Will Campuzano via decision and succumbing to a rear naked choke at WEC 53 against Renan Barao, who fought earlier tonight. It's likely that he was on the cusp of being released when he entered the bout this evening.