There’s a thing MMA fighters like to do, and to some from the outside looking in, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The old adage goes something like this: “I don’t want to call anybody out. I’ll just fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me.”Maybe there was a time John Makdessi (14-6 MMA, 7-6 UFC) used to be like that. But not anymore. On the sidelines for five months, and with three losses in his past four fights, the 32-year-old Canadian veteran can’t afford to sit back and wait for his name to be called anymore. He’ll do the calling now if he has to.There’s one name in particular the lightweight is interested in, and it’s UFC featherweight Artem Lobov. But if Lobov doesn’t want to move back up to lightweight, the division he fought in as a finalist on Season 22 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” there are plenty more names out there whomake Makdessi’s list.
“Nik Lentz, Reza Madadi, Bobby Green, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Al Iaquinta, Chris Wade these are, off the top of my head, the 155ers who’d give me a good matchup and test my skills and hopefully get me back to title contention,” Makdessi on Thursday told MMAjunkie Radio.
He knows his recent 1-3 stretch, though, makes calling anyone out a tough proposition to get buy-in on. And that probably especially includes Lobov (13-13-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC), whose status as one of lightweight champ Conor McGregor’s key training partners makes him a much more visible presence than an ordinary .500 fighter.
In fact, Lobov was just one fight above .500 after 26 fights in his MMA career when he got the call for a UFC main event against Cub Swanson in April, a fight he dropped in a five-round decision.
“I’m not in the position to pick and choose my opponents, but Artem Lobov is a good matchup for me,” he said. “… I’d love to fight McGregor (teammates) because they’re all fighting on the hype. If you look at Artem Lobov, he got a main-event (fight). I have no idea how he got to the main event, to be honest with you. Look at his record: Who did he fight? I’ve fought top guys.”
Makdessi is a longtime member of the Tristar Gym team in Montreal coached by Firas Zahabi, where his teammates have been the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald. He started his pro career 9-0, including his first two wins in the UFC.
After back-to-back losses to fall to 2-2 in the promotion, he went on a solid run of four wins in five fights decisions against Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank, plus knockouts of Renee Forte and Shane Campbell.Less than a month after his win over Campbell, he took a short-notice fight as a replacement for Khabib Nurmagomedov against Donald Cerrone at UFC 187 in Las Vegas. “Cowboy” stopped him with a head kick, a loss that broke his jaw and startedMakdessi’s current 1-3 slide. At UFC 206 this past December, Lando Vannata knocked him out with a wheel kick.
So getting back to work is something on Makdessi’s mind even if he’s starting to acknowledge that the way to go about it might be different now than he likes.
“I’m realizing the game has changed,” he said. “You’ve got to adapt to the game. People are calling out people. (The UFC bosses) want the fighters to be more active on social media, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I come from a traditional background nobody teaches you how to talk trash and how to sell yourself. I’m not a good salesperson.
“But at the end of the day, this is my life and if I have to go out there and pick fights, if I have to go out there and start talking, then (expletive), I’ll do it.”For more on the UFCs upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casinos Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by Gorgeous George Garcia and producer Brian Goze Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.