Bellator’s Michael McDonald, former UFC title challenger, retires

Five weeks after announcing he needed to undergo yet another hand surgery, Michael McDonald reportedly has decided to retire from MMA.

The 27-year-old McDonald (19-4 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) told‘s Brett Okamoto he will hang up his gloves after a 23-fight career.

“Most people, when they quit, it’s because they can’t hang,” McDonald told “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.”

McDonald elaborated on a social media post hours after news broke (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

My friends and family, I am excited to announce the start of a new chapter for me and my wife Rachel.
Today I am officially retiring from MMA fighting and I plan on never competing in martial arts competitions again. I had a wonderful career and a wonderful staff, and even greater- a wonderful wife and a wonderful God to thank for all the great moments.
I am now going to be doing my woodworking full time from here on for many many years to come. I have been a professional cabinet and furniture maker for 7 years now along side my fighting. I have my own custom cabinetry and furniture shop and i am just as passionate about woodworking as i am about martial Arts. I put the same hard work and striving for perfection into my woodworking craft as you have all seen in my fighting career.

In August, McDonald announced on his social media platforms that he needed another hand surgery after breaking it with a knockout of former Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas in July. The stunning 58-second knockout will go down as his final performance, and one of his most memorable.

The California native went 6-3 during his nine fights in the UFC and won five post-fight bonus awards. Perhaps his most notable win in the UFC was a first-round knockout of former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres in April 2012. Ten months later, McDonald found himself fighting Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title.

McDonald headed into that fight a perfect 4-0 in the UFC and on an eight-fight winning streak overall, but was submitted in the fourth round. That set off a stretch of down-and-up for McDonald. After a submission loss to Urijah Faber, McDonald was out all of 2014 and 2015 and finally returned after a layoff of more than two years.

McDonald signed with Bellator in 2017 and won his promotional debut with a decision over Peter Ligier before his July win over Dantas. He wound up fighting just four times in the past five years thanks to his injury issues.

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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