Once a top prospect in the entire sport, Michael McDonald is stepping away from MMA.
McDonald confirmed his retirement Thursday to ESPN.
McDonald, 27, is coming off an impressive 57-second knockout over former Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas in July. In the fight, however, he suffered a hand injury and one month later, was forced to undergo his fifth hand surgery in five years. McDonald said injuries took a toll on his career and that he feels now is the right time to move on.
McDonald said he discussed retirement even before the Dantas fight and his latest injury and is ultimately satisfied with his decision.
“This last fight, everything was perfect,” McDonald said. “This feels good. Most people, when they quit, it’s because they can’t hang. They’ve been beaten out of the sport and their family is sitting them down and asking them to please stop. For me, it’s not a matter of skill or being able to perform, but I’m at a point where the cost is greater than the reward.
“I’m exhausted of these hand injuries. I’m exhausted of breaking my body in half.”
On top of his hand injury, McDonald has lost use of his left bicep, and it is not yet known whether that’s temporary or permanent. “Mayday” said the anesthesiologist made a mistake in the surgery last month, leading to the bicep damage.
“My entire left arm is about half the size of my right arm,” he said. “It’s unusable. I can’t even pick up a cup of water. It’s possible my left bicep never comes back to use.”
McDonald retires with a pro record of 19-4. He signed with Bellator last year and went 2-0 under the Viacom-backed promotion. Prior to his Bellator run, McDonald was in the UFC for more than five years. He holds standout wins over Miguel Torres and Brad Pickett. He fought Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title in 2013 but lost via submission.
After the unsuccessful title fight, he went 2-2 in the UFC and requested his release. His final UFC fight was a stoppage loss to John Lineker in July 2016.
McDonald said in a Facebook post that he plans to pursue his passion of woodworking full time. He said he has his own custom cabinetry and furniture shop.