IT is minutes before midnight on Christmas, and David Michaud is standing in the middle of 42nd Street, taking pictures of the bustling neon cathedral that is Times Square. The "walk/don't walk" sign is telling him he has another 12, 11, 10 seconds to remain planted there in the crosswalk, phone camera collecting memories. Then the waiting herd of yellow taxis, graffiti-decorated commercial trucks, and even a few night-owl family minivans carrying slumbering children will be unleashed.

Michaud continues to snap away, unhurried and undaunted, as the countdown reaches "4 ... 3 ... 2." Then, as vehicle engines begin to rev, he calmly steps to the curb. Such poise in the line of fire will come in handy in a few days. In fact, the reason he has strolled over here on this night to check out The Crossroads of the World is that on Tuesday, when these streets are jammed with "Auld Lang Syne" merrymakers, Michaud will be otherwise occupied.

The 31-year-old MMA welterweight will be nine blocks south, inside the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, fighting Ray Cooper III for one of six $1 million prizes at the PFL Championship.