EXCLUSIVE | Reinvigorated at Roufusport, John Makdessi hopes UFC 231 win will set up top-10 fight

John Makdessi

Canadian lightweight John Makdessi has called the UFC home for years. He has been fighting for the promotion since 2010.

Since he joined the UFC, however, the top Canadian fighter in the Octagon was always Georges St-Pierre. Now that St-Pierre is competing so much less, Makdessi believes the UFC is really trying to push him as the next big Canadian fighter. He has fought inside the Octagon 15 times, and 10 of them has been fights in Canada.

“I believe the UFC needs an exciting Canadian fighter and I have proven over and over again that, with the right coach, the right preparation, the right mindset, I can go in there I always give the fans excitement,” John Makdessi told BJPENN.com. “That is what they pay for. I think this is why the UFC pushes me on the Canadian cards because they need guys like me in Canada. They know my fights are never boring.”

Makdessi has had some incredible fights over the course of his career — both back-and-forth wars, and incredible knockouts. His style and his wins led him to fight top fighters in the lightweight division, and that is where he suffered back-to-back losses at the hands of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Yancy Medeiros. Luckily, those losses never impacted Makdessi’s confidence, as he is now riding a two-fight winning streak ahead of his matchup against Diego Ferreira at UFC 231 in Toronto.

“Diego—every UFC fighter is a tough competitor, but I feel I have fought tougher opponents,” John Makdessi said of his upcoming foe. “He has fought tough opponents also, but I feel like I have fought guys with more experience. I’m more mature, more well rounded, I focus on all my angles. He is a tough competitor and this is why it is going to be an exciting fight for the fans.”

This fight could very well be the Fight of the Night for the card, an honor Makdessi won in his last fight in Calgary. Although putting a great fight on for the fans is something Makdessi wants to do, winning is the most important thing. If he defeats Ferreira, he will have three wins in a row. With that, getting into the top-15 of the lightweight rankings is not out of the question. However, he isn’t too worried about being ranked.

“Rankings don’t really… I feel like they are really irrelative,” he said. “From my past experience I had a great performance and then they gave me Donald Cerrone, who was ranked second at that time, on two weeks notice. I feel like with proper training, proper preparation, I feel like fighting a top-10 opponent is my next challenge. My main focus is Diego, that is going to be my next test. If I’m victorious and I am able to show the UFC I can stay consistent, my goal is to fight a top-10 [opponent] and get back to the title contention.”

Makdessi truly has looked like a completely new fighter as of late. A big reason for that is his recent move to Roufusport in Milwaukee, where he trains under the watchful eye of the legendary coach Duke Roufus.

“It took me 10 years to kind of find a [coach] to have everything,” he said. “Before it was a struggle, it was chaotic. MMA is very juvenile in the sense of resources. 99 percent of trainers out there have no idea what they are doing. It is that one percent of trainers who understand the game, how to nurture the fighter so they can blossom. This is why a lot of people, the general public don’t understand the MMA business is a very tough business. To get to that Conor McGregor status you need to have the combination of stuff. That takes time, it takes personality and character. That is development and that is where Duke Roufus understands the sport and he understands the business. He is the best combination and my best asset. I wish I discovered him a long time ago.”

Makdessi has also benefited from his new training partners at the Milwaukee gym. Several top UFC and Bellator fighters call Roufus’ gym their home — part the reason why Makdessi headed to Milwaukee to train.

“I have a whole roster of MMA fighters over here, a few up-and-comers and some guys in the UFC like Anthony Pettis, Sergio Pettis, Paul Felder, Jared Gordon. You have Emmanuel Sanchez, he is my main training partner, he is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He is fighting for the featherweight title in Bellator, he is going to be the next champ,” Makdessi said. “I have a great group of guys to help prepare all angles. On the ground, standing, wrestling, however the fight goes I am mentally and physically ready.”

John Makdessi’s fight is just over a month away, and with all the training he has done he is confident he can come out victorious. But win lose or draw, the goal remains the same:

“The goal is to stay active and get more experience. There is a lot of pressure, there is a lot of things that happen behind the scenes. You need that Octagon time to feel comfortable and not let your nerves get the best of you,” he said. “The goal is to stay active, stay healthy and perform. I’m 33, I’m at my peak of [my career], I feel like I am more mature, this is the time for me to go showcase my MMA game.”

Catch John Makdessi back in action at UFC 231 in Toronto this December.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/25/2018.