John Makdessi Says “Finding A System” Key To Recent Wins, Admits to Seeing “Red” And Wanting To “Hurt” Daron Cruickshank at UFC 158
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although much of the spotlight before and after UFC 158 was understandably focused on welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, the fighter’s teammate John Makdessi, also recorded another pivotal win at the event. After Makdessi dropped a unanimous decision loss to Anthony Njokuani last April, which followed a quick defeat to Dennis Hallman a few months earlier, questions remained as to whether “The Bull’s” first UFC run could soon be over.
Since then, however, Makdessi has gone to defeat noted strikers Sam Stout and most recently Daron Cruickshank, and has looked extremely confident and on point while doing so. If the old saying that you’re “only as good as your last fight” is true, then Makdessi shouldn’t have a very long line of critics right about now.
“It was more of finding a system that helped me excel in my sport,” Makdessi said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, while discussing the back-to-back, unanimous decision wins. “I think truly I’m in a good place mentally and physically, and I have a great team, and I think all of that connects to fighting.”
Makdessi arrived in the UFC in 2010 having won his first seven pro MMA bouts, and the experienced kickboxer went on to score a UD win over Pat Audinwood, before knocking out Kyle Watson in April, 2011. Then came the aforementioned losses to Hallman and Njokuani, which likely put Makdessi in a “must win” situation, before he battled and defeated Stout in November.
“A lot of things happen behind the scenes that people don’t know about,” the Tristar fighter furthered. “That for me is more important than the fight. Fighting is win or lose, there’s an outcome, but the actual process, the steps I take every day, the things people don’t see behind the scenes, the hard work, the dedication, that for me is more important. I’m just very fortunate to have a great team behind me.”
The March 16th bout with Cruickshank did not start off with the type of striking fireworks that most people expected, or were hoping for, but by the second and third the battle was underway. It was during those rounds that Makdessi also moved ahead in the scorecards.
“I tried to envision myself as a smart and clever fighter,” the 27 year-old fighter noted. “I do a lot of research and I love martial arts. I’m a big student for that. I look up to the best fighters in the world and study them…The thing is, you don’t want to just jump in; I knew he was a tricky fighter and I knew he was dangerous.”
“The first round, I understand how people were booing, but people need to understand that there’s more to fighting than just hitting and attacking,” Makdessi (11-2) added. “I wasn’t hitting him but I was still attacking him…I wanted him to hit me, I wanted him to feel comfortable to see what he would throw at me. It’s a process; I’m feeling him out. That for me is a part of fighting.”
Although Makdessi continued to outscore Cruickshank throughout the bout with a precise and well timed striking assault, the usually stoic looking fighter appeared to get somewhat riled up in a couple of spots.
“My goal is to be mature; my goal is to stay calm, stay focused,” said Makdessi. “The thing is that I just found that he was stalling a lot in the fight, in the sense that he kept fighting excuses to, I watched the fight, first I kicked him the thigh, the cup was grazed, but I thought he over exaggerated on that.”
“After he threw some type of punch or kick, he missed, I countered it, and he turned his head,” Makdessi added. “I’m just thinking of reaction, when I reacted it hit the back of his head and he was complaining. When I looked at it, it was like, don’t turn your head…another thing that bothered me was that he had a weird defense where he kept sticking his fingers in my face…at the end, I had to go to the hospital because my eye was on fire, because he scratched the inside of my eyeball, and I had to get antibiotics… I just saw red after, I didn’t care anymore about the time or anything, I just wanted to hurt him.”