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Pickett says Barao beats McDonald, wants the winner
Brad Pickett predicts Renan Barao will successfully defend his interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald, although the Brit confesses he would prefer the challenger to triumph.
Pickett has a keen interest in the February 16 title collision of Barao and McDonald, knowing victory over Eddie Wineland - which he does not take for granted - could book him a showdown with the winner.
The Brit has already shared an Octagon with Barao, losing on UFC debut after being caught by a well-timed knee from the Brazilian. In Pickett's eyes Barao, who has also defeated Urijah Faber and Scott Jorgensen, has beaten the better competition compared to McDonald, winner over Miguel Torres and Alex Soto in his last two fights.
"I see Barao winning, probably by decision," Pickett told ESPN. "I'll be surprised if McDonald wins. I don't think McDonald has been truly tested yet. This will undoubtedly be his biggest test so if he does beat Barao I'll be really impressed.
"I thought there were areas for him to improve in the Chris Cariaso fight, the Edwin Figueroa fight, these are relatively small guys in the weight class.
"To be fair to McDonald, he's beaten what has been put in front of him, which is all he can do. But even with the Miguel Torres fight, I think most people would acknowledge that was a Miguel Torres who was a shadow of his former self.
"Whereas Barao always impresses me. He's always looked good."
Pickett would be forgiven for supporting McDonald at Wembley Arena, knowing that his own defeat against Barao might make the UFC hesitant to set up a rematch. But the Brit says he has a different reason to get behind the challenger, explaining he isn't a big fan of rematching old opponents.
"There are so many rematches in this sport, but personally I don't like rematches win or lose," Pickett said. "I like to fight fresh opponents always. If I've fought a guy and beaten him, I don't want to fight him again. I don't want to rematch Yves Jabouin, or Eddie Wineland once we've fought.
"The only difference is if there's a title at the end of it. That's when you rematch people. So personally I want McDonald to win so I get to fight a fresh opponent in McDonald, but if Barao wins of course I'd love to rematch Barao for a title.
"But I hate people who misinterpret me and think I'm saying I'm scared of Barao. I've never been scared of an opponent in my life. Even if you get knocked out, it doesn't hurt. I just prefer new challenges."