John Makdessi will make his 16th appearance in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 148 in Nashville on March 28.
It has been a career of highs and lows for the 33-year-old Canadian. Makdessi debuted for the company as an undefeated 25-year-old and has since posted a mixed record of 9-6, but has the opportunity to win his third fight in a row against rising prospect Nasrat Haqparast in Nashville.
In an interview with John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock, Makdessi discussed not over thinking the factors of the game that are out of his control, and his focus on evolving daily despite his ‘veteran’ status.
“I’m a different breed. I’m a new evolved fighter. I’m not the same. I’m not the old John. I’ve been working a lot on evolving as a fighter. You know, I’m always learning new things every day. Every day I’m learning something new. It’s crazy to think, you know, people call me a veteran. I still feel there are a lot of things to learn.”
“The Bull” has learned to embrace the unpredictability of MMA, and has a clear strategy in mind for his future, even if that means not fighting multiple times a year.
“For me, it’s not really about quantity, it’s about quality… You know, if you look at my past performances, they were pretty good performances. I try not to take any punishment; you know what I mean? I fought two established names. For me it’s about performing, to give a good fight and to have longevity and to be smart about when to fight, also.”
Resurgence at Roufusport
Makdessi’s newly discovered mindset and continuing evolution as a fighter are the product of his new home at Milwaukee’s famed Roufusport gym.
The Canadian made headlines when he left Canada’s most famous MMA gym, Tristar Gym, for greener pastures in Wisconsin. The move seems to have done wonders for “The Bull” who picked up back-to-back wins over Abel Trujillo and a “Fight of the Night” performance against Ross Pearson since training in Milwaukee.
Makdessi has not been short on praise when it comes to his new team.
“He [head coach Duke Roufus] made it very structured. It’s very structured,” Makdessi explained.
“It’s well structured. It’s well maintained. It’s really like you’re in a camp… You need to understand everybody has to work together. You know, it helps the process much better.”
Aside from the structured environment and renowned coaches like Duke Roufus, Roufusport hosts a litany of world-class fighters. One of those fighters is Anthony “Showtime” Pettis who, at this stage of his career, has become synonymous with the gym. Makdessi will share the card with his new training partner Pettis as he looks to make his welterweight debut in the main event against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
He’s [Pettis] a strong, solid dude,” Makdessi answered when asked about training with the former UFC Lightweight champion.
“Obviously he’s bigger. He’s not cutting weight, and he’s much thicker. Obviously, he’s eating bigger portions, so the body is not stressing on the small, little meals and being very specific with the nutrition. He seems to be happy that he’s eating full meals and is able to train the way he wants to train.”
Fighting a familiar foe
Makdessi’s opponent for the evening will be Nasrat Haqparast, a man who is ten years the junior of Makdessi, currently riding a two-fight win streak of his own. Makdessi and Haqparast both trained at Tristar Gym under the famed Firas Zahabi. While it may seem like this adds a unique wrinkle the match-up, Makdessi doesn’t see it that way.
“No, not really,” Makdessi answered when asked if he’d take a different approach against a former training partner.
“Being at Tristar, you know, it’s inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. I had a feeling that I was going to fight a former Tristar guy.”
“The Bull” knows that to make a run at the top, he has to accept the fights he’s given and made it clear that there is no ill-will towards his former gym and head coach.
“I’m still connected with Firas, you know, we’re good friends. I respect Tristar. It was my platform, you know, it got me into the UFC. I’m always going to have respect for Tristar and Firas Zahabi. It’s business; it’s not personal.”
Watch John Makdessi’s full interview with John Hyon Ko below, and subscribe to Kumite TV for more interviews.
A 28-year-old MMA nut. Paralegal by trade, and heavyweight champion in my mind.