John Makdessi Says Loss To Dennis Hallman “Is Always On My Mind”
Lightweight Looking to Rebound Versus Anthony Njokuani
By Kelsey Mowatt
You would be hard pressed to find someone in the world of MMA that doesn’t think losing is inevitable, even for the sport’s toughest and most talented fighters. Of course that doesn’t make it any easier for a fighter when it finally occurs.
In the case of John Makdessi, not only did the experienced martial artist manage to go undefeated in his first nine pro bouts, he secured wins over Pat Audinwood and Kyle Watson in his first two UFC appearances. At UFC 140 in December, however, the renowned striker’s impressive run was quickly halted by the well travelled vet Dennis Hallman. Despite the fact the defeat was the first of Makdessi’s MMA career, the Tristar lightweight isn’t quite ready to forget and move on.
“That fight is always in my mind,” Makdessi told FCF, while discussing the first round submission loss he incurred against Hallman. “It’s what motivates me to make sure something like that never happens again. The thing with that fight was it was just one of those things. I don’t think I’ve ever fought someone that big before in my life. He was really oversized; he has a bigger frame than Georges St. Pierre you know?”
Many observers had touted the UFC 140 bout as a classic striker versus grappler match-up, due to the documented stand-up skills of Makdessi and the highly regarded, grappling abilities of Hallman.
“People probably could have said that my wrestling sucks or my grappling sucks, but it had nothing to do with that; he was just a bigger, stronger guy than me,” Makdessi said. “He knew it and I knew it; that was the only way to beat me.”
“Usually I go in and my mind set is to touch gloves, and then fight, but the moment we walked into the Octagon he rushed me and took me down,” Makdessi added. “I wasn’t expecting that and it took me off my game. That’s never going to happen again. I learned my lesson. I’m never going to get in the ring and not be alert.”
Up next, Makdessi will look to rebound from his first pro loss against another noted striker in Anthony Njokuani, when the two square off at UFC 145 on April 21st.
“Watching footage of Anthony he’s a counter fighter I believe,” Makdessi noted about his next opponent, who is coming off a split decision to Danny Castillo in December, after earning a UD win over Andre Winner last July. “He likes to stay in the pocket and counter his opponents. The thing about me is that my diversity is going to be the key to this fight. I can mix it up a lot. I don’t want to take anything away from him though; he’s tall, has good reach and is strong throughout much of the fight.”
Despite Makdessi’s propensity for striking and preference to keep a bout standing, “The Bull” isn’t going to eliminate any of his options come fight night.
“I’ve been practicing my grappling a lot, practicing my wrestling at clubs in Montreal,” Makdessi said. “Firas Zahabi is a great grappler and my head coach; I’ve also started going to Gracie Barra and Bruno Fernandes, so I have so many guys around me helping me become much more well rounded…I’ve been training with Mark Bocek, one of the top grapplers out there in Montreal too, so I’ve been touching on all the different aspects.”
“I changed up a lot of things after my last fight,” the 5’8 tall fighter furthered. “I’ve been working on my conditioning, and I feel fresh and feel healthy. I’m not banged up as much.”