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Pickett's wish granted

Huge night of bantamweight action beckons as Urijah Faber, Yuri Alcantara, Brad Pickett and Michael McDonald all feature on August 17 in Boston.

August 17 in Boston promises to be a crucial night for the bantamweight division, not least for England’s Brad Pickett who can take a giant step towards a title shot.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship® launches on FOX Sports 1 at the TD Garden, with a stacked card headlined by the light heavyweight encounter between former UFC® champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chael Sonnen.

However, a significant sub-plot to the main event centres upon the 135-pound terrain, where four hugely talented individuals will attempt to put their names forward for title contention. Former WEC® champion Urijah Faber takes on Yuri Alcantara – who has lost only one of his last 15 bouts, while Pickett squares off against Michael McDonald – coming off a loss to interim champion Renan Barao.

For Pickett, his long-term wish has been answered. The Brit has been determined to face a high-ranked rival in order to scale the rankings, and by fighting McDonald he has the chance to beat the #3-ranked bantamweight in the UFC.

Pickett is currently 24-7 in his MMA career and 3-2 in the UFC, having twice had his run to a potential championship bout derailed – first by Barao and then Eddie Wineland. The Brit is coming off a Fight of the Night victory over Mike Easton and will have the advantages of both momentum and experience over his opponent.

McDonald (15-2) faces a fresh challenge after his February 16 defeat to Barao, having previously been undefeated in the UFC. Like Pickett, the 22-year-old likes to keep the fight standing, landing 80 per cent of his strikes while on his feet.

With reigning champion Dominick Cruz now cleared to start boxing sparring following a long-term rehabilitation period from injury, the bantamweight division is beginning to gain renewed impetus, so the victors on August 17 stand to place themselves in a strong position to contend for the ultimate prize in the near future.