John “The Bull” Makdessi (18-7; 11-7 in the UFC) is re-entering the octagon after nearly an 18-month layoff from his last fight. His opponent, Nasrat Haqparast (13-5; 5-4 in the UFC), is looking to re-enter the win column after coming up short in his last two fights against borderline-ranked lightweight veterans.
John Makdessi stuffed a prospect’s climb up the division his last time around in an all-out war of a fight. While fighting in wars, particularly with the number of miles Makdessi has on his body, may prove to be a costly consequence for veteran-type fighters, Makdessi, having wisdom, took the necessary time to let his body heal so he can continue to upset the rise of younger fighters. Having one’s vision of success halted by veterans is something Nasrat Haqparast is all too familiar with; however, his high-level skill-set, accompanied now by a mental understanding of what it takes to beat game contenders, makes him a dangerous fighter in the perceivable future.
In this fight, we will find out if the veteran continues to upset the younger fighter or if the youth, now having ample experience, will finally check the veteran win off his desired resume list!
Opening at a -180, Nasrat Haqarasat continues to climb in price, to now being priced as a -238 favorite over John Makdessi.
Each time I get ready for a John Makdessi fight, I am routinely surprised that his first fight in the UFC took place back in 2010. Having a 12-year stint in the UFC is quite admirable and, more importantly, quite dangerous, given wisdom, experience, and an understanding of how to battle through adversity are all exacerbated in strength each time one enters the octagon, so having 18 fights in the UFC is a weapon for John Makdessi to use in this fight.
Often, when a fighter is as seasoned as Makdessi is, particularly when the elite status is not affiliated with his fight arsenal, patience is employed. While patience in the octagon shows confidence in ability accompanied by being a good tactic against opponents who gas, patience can quickly turn into a significant detriment if the opponent understands output and cardio. For Makdessi, in this particular fight, being overly patient, as he was last time around, may prove to be a catastrophic mistake, given the fighter he is fighting against is far more seasoned than who Makdessi has recently squared off against.
Beyond being a slow starter, Makdessi has further weaknesses when facing a proven opponent. Notably, he, once having good power for a lightweight, has not finished a victory since 2015 – 9 fights since his last finish. While he does have several victories over this 9-fight finish skid, Makdessi’s lack of fight-ending ability has resulted in him winning close affairs, several of which have come via split decision. The reason why Makdessi is able to win on the judges’ scorecards is that he is able to methodically find successful moments in a round, whereby he gradually separates himself from his opponent. Moreover, being a grizzled veteran, he is able to keep the fight standing – an 89% career TD def rate -, dirty box in the clinch, and maintain a steady output once he gets going. This style of winning either in a boring or ugly fashion has proved successful but often is unsuccessful when facing a fighter that is either more skilled and/or understands how to combat a “veteran-style” fight game. Given that Nasrat likely fits that bill, Makdessi will need to show a greater focus on danger, contrary to grinding his way to a victory if he seeks to earn himself a win in this matchup.
Nasrat Haqparast was, not too long ago, touted as being a very interesting prospect in a deep lightweight division. When he is fighting his best, Nasrat showcases extremely crisp and technical boxing, whereby he throws to the body when his opponent shows a high guard, and once the hands drop, throws to the head and exits on an angle before the opponent has a chance to counter the attack. Having talented boxing out of the southpaw position, accompanied by having sound takedown defense, justified many believing he is a legitimate ranked fighter in the lightweight division. But, when given the chance to do just that, Nasrat found difficulty in implementing his style against the tough veterans of the sport.
In both losses, one to Dan Hooker and the other to Bobby Green, I found myself writing the same notes – his boxing needs to be implemented with an alternate game plan; I believe the loss will be good in the long run. The former note is perhaps the most important to analyze, as we see fighters who employ a predominant boxing style have difficulty when facing opponents who have been there and done that. While I say this, I fully recognize that there have been many “boxing-style” fighters who have had championship-level success in the UFC, but, of those high-caliber fighters, the ability to mix in an alternate martial art was pivotal to their success. For Nasrat, an understanding of what makes him good – boxing – along with comprehension of alternate attacks aiding in the success of the primary tactic he seeks to employ is critical for success against the top fighters in the division.
While Nasrat needs to showcase an understanding of unpredictability inside the octagon in the future, I foresee this fight being one where he can comfortably show improvement in alternate areas while finding success solely in boxing if he so chooses. This belief is rooted in Makdessi being a slow starter and slow mover accompanied by Nasrat being a strong striker to both the head and body. So, being able to land strikes, to both the body and head, against an opponent who possesses little threat on the feet and one who wears punches early, is a tremendous matchup for Nasrat.
Add in the fact that he has had widespread success against the non-ranked caliber of fighters – Makdessi is not one at this stage of his career – and I am confidently taking Nasrat to win this fight. But, choosing a method is quite difficult given that Makdessi is quite tough, so while I lean Nasrat by TKO/KO, I am far more comfortable taking him straight, albeit at a steep price.
Pick: Nasrat Haqparast to win (-238 odds at MyBookie)