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Michael McDonald Interview
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By Michael Afromowitz
May 9, 2004 One week after his brilliant ďBattle At The Bellagio IIĒ tournament victory, K-1ís ageless gladiator speaks his mind.
Heading into Friday, April 30thís ďBattle At The Bellagio IIĒ tournament in Las Vegas, the majority of K-1 followers did not consider Michael McDonald as key a factor to the outcome of the event as he had been only a year earlier. An early exit from last Mayís tournament followed by a brutal knockout loss to a less established Bjorn Bregy towards the close of the year all convinced critics that the Canadian Muay Thai stylistís fighting days were numbered. And, of course, there was his age being taken into account. At 39 years old, McDonald was the eldest of the eight athletes in the tournament draw and at a stage in life when most fighters have either hung up their gloves or are pondering retirement.
When judgment day came, though, McDonald looked as physically strong as he did in 2002 when he captured back-to-back tournament titles in Sin City and solidified his stature as the dominant K-1 player in North America. His combinations were as crisp as they had been when he earned a unanimous judges decision over longtime K-1 superstar Nicholas Pettas in front of over 35,000 fans in Fukuoka, Japan Ė the bout that, to date, is regarded as his defining performance in the squared circle.
Indeed, after three straight wins that night, McDonald proved to the martial arts fight world that he is revitalized and is still a force in the highly competitive world of ďThe New Fighting Sport.Ē
Q: So, how are you feeling?
A: Iím alright. I was back in the gym Monday Ė back to work. I feel good and I felt great for the fight.
Q: I think everyone wants to know how you did it against Marvin Eastman. How did you come back the way you did?
A: Well, when I went down I was fine. For me, it was like a flash knockdown. When I got up, I wasnít even shaky at all. I got up and kept my composure and just went after him.
Q: So, you had your feet underneath you in the second round?
A: Yea, I was 100 percent fine. It was just a real flash. I went down and was like ĎOh.í So, I just took my time, took the count, and got up. Then I did what I needed to do to win.
Q: What did you see in Marvin that helped you turn the fight around so quickly?
A: From what I heard prior to fighting him was that heís aggressive and comes to fight. I wasnít sure what his conditioning would be Ė whether he would try and finish the fight early or if heíd have the conditioning for the second round and the third round. A lot of guys like to get the job done quickly and get out. After I got up, though, he came after me again. I covered myself and then went after him.
Q: This is your third K-1 tournament title in North America. Whatís your secret to success?
A: I think itís just a matter of trying not to get injured, being smart, trying to understand strategies and the science of K-1 fighting - not just throwing a punch and throwing a kick, but understanding the science of it. Itís kind of like chess. You can jump the guy, but you can also get jumped yourself.
Q: Kind of like the game rock, paper, scissors?
A: Right. So, you got to understand that and know your distance and your timing. Also, itís important to just lead a clean life and stay healthy and things will hopefully fall in place. For me, I donít drink; I donít smoke or do anything like that. I try and eat as good as I can. I try to work on new stuff every time. The more you have, the better. Mind you, I may work on 20 different techniques, but I may only use three in the ring or use the ones that Iím comfortable with or know that Iím good at. But, sometimes there are also openings for something new. With Marvin, from when the bell rang, I saw he was open for a lot. So, I thought Iíd just move around with him for a little bit before I start opening up.
Q: A lot of people discredited your ability to come out on top after your results last year. How did the criticsí words factor into your motivation to win this tournament?
A: Well, last May I just felt like I made a mistake. It was my fault. Carter beat me on points, but I didnít get hurt. I couldnít do what I wanted to do, basically. As far as this year, I wouldnít say I trained harder. I just trained my norm and I said Iím gonna do it this year. I didnít work on anything different. I didnít change anything.
Q: Dewey Cooper fought a great tournament as well. Against you, though, he had trouble putting together any kind of real momentum. What do you think it was about that matchup in terms of styles that helped you dominate the fight?
A: With Dewey, I said to myself ĎHeís gonna run. Heís gonna be on his bike,í which is what he did. He was using angles and lateral movement Ė a lot of it Ė like a boxer would do. He didnít really want a part of me. He just wanted to get a few kicks and a few combinations in and run. So, I said ĎIf I cut him off, Iíll get him. Or when he comes in, Iíll blast him.í The first time I threw a head kick at him, he woke up. If his guard wasnít as tight, he would have been knocked down, or maybe even knocked out. He was giving me a lot of time to do what I wanted to do. I had a lot of time to work and think.
He wouldnít stay in front of me. He would go, which is good. You donít want to stay in front of somebody. For his part, he fought a smart fight. But, winning on points he wasnít going to do because, when I bang him, Iím gonna get a lot more points than he would by doing what he was doing.
Q: Youíre 39 years old, but you donít look it. Do you get that a lot from people?
A: I do. I donít tell them my real age, though. To me, itís not important, you know? Whenever I have to fill out an application, I put 26. (Laughs) People always ask me when Iím going to retire or if I think Iím too old. I just say ĎYou know what? Iím at the age where Iím getting up there, but my body doesnít feel like it.í If Iím starting to get knocked out or hit too much, thatís telling me something. But right now, thatís not really happening.
Q: Can we expect to see you back in action during the summer?
A: I was just asked if I wanted to fight in New Zealand in June Ė in the K-1 Oceania event - but thatís sort of tentative right now. Iíve got to speak with K-1 this coming week to see whatís going on.
Q: If you come back to Las Vegas in the summer for a K-1 fight, what can we expect to see from you?
A: Basically, I just want to come and give a good performance and give the people their moneyís worth and hopefully come out victorious again.
Join Date: Oct 2002
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McDonald is awesome. I did'nt know he was 40 years old! Wow, he looks good for 40 (no i am not ghey). he moves and looks like a new athlete.
i like how he defines "the science of K-1", "its not just throwing a punch and throwing a kick". Hes a good champion for K-1. Good interview. Thanks for the read.
Join Date: Apr 2004
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McDonald has class in my book, I have always liked him
I was glad to see him win it too.
They need a geriatrics club for McDonald Couture Severn and the rest of them, go on tour across America taking it to the young bucks of MMA
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