Zach Makovsky has enjoyed renewed success at 125 pounds. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Zach Makovsky believes he and Joshua Sampo were cut from the same cloth.
The onetime Bellator MMA and Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion will lock horns with Sampo in a pivotal flyweight showdown as part of the UFC 170 “Rousey vs. McMann” undercard on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The winner could vault into contention at 125 pounds.
“Josh is a very talented fighter, I think, a guy [with a lot of] victories similar to me,” Makovsky told Sherdog.com. “I think we’re fairly close to each other in the rankings, so I think it’s a good fight for both of us. He’s pretty similar to me. He’s a division two All-American wrestler, I believe, a good jiu-jitsu guy [who] favors grappling more than striking, but he can strike, too. I feel like we have very similar styles.”
Makovsky made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on short notice at UFC on Fox 9 in December, when he claimed a hard-fought but well-earned unanimous verdict from Scott Jorgensen at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. He stepped in for an injured Ian McCall and capitalized with just 10 days to prepare, earning 30-27 marks from all three judges.
“When the opportunity you’ve been waiting for knocks, you take advantage no matter what,” Makovsky said. “It was a good situation, too, because I had just come off of a fight in RFA three weeks before, so I was in good shape. My weight wasn’t heavy or anything. It wasn’t ideal circumstances, but [they were] probably about as good as they can get being a short-notice fight like that.”
The victory over Jorgensen made Makovsky an immediate person of interest in the still-fledgling flyweight division. The 31-year-old Philadelphia Fight Factory export has won three fights in a row since parting ways with Bellator a little more than a year ago.
“I’m thrilled,” Makovsky said. “I’ve been trying to get to the UFC my whole career, so to have a chance to fight on any UFC card is a thrill. I want to stay focused on not just being in the UFC, but I really want to do well and I want to make a run at the title.”
Makovsky, who wrestled collegiately at Drexel University, spent a significant chunk of his UFC 170 training camp working alongside four-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Marcelo Garcia in New York City.
“I’ve been coming up here for a couple years now, trying to make it up as often as I can,” he said. “I try to come up once a week. It doesn’t always work like that. Marcelo, in my opinion, is the best jiu-jitsu guy in the world that I’ve seen. I think his body type and his style really correlates to what I like to do as far as my wrestling background [goes]. He’s a short, stocky guy, very explosive. He attacks a lot.
“He was very gracious in opening his doors and helping me out with anything,” Makovsky added. “It’s been great. My jiu-jitsu’s [been] improving and improving since I’ve been [coming] up here. It’s just going to help me in every area.”
NEXT IN LINE
If Alexis Davis wants a crack at the UFC women’s bantamweight crown, she will have to go through Jessica Eye to get it.
Davis will carry a streak of four consecutive wins into her preliminary matchup with the Bellator veteran at UFC 170. The 29-year-old Canadian last appeared at UFC Fight Night 31 in November, when she defeated Liz Carmouche by unanimous decision at Fort Campbell in Hopkinsville, Ky. Davis’ run of success dates beyond her current surge, as she has won seven of her past eight bouts -- a decision loss to Sarah Kaufman under the Strikeforce banner in March 2012 the lone hiccup.
Meanwhile, controversy continues to swirl around Eye, who saw her UFC 166 victory over Kaufman changed to a no-contest following a positive test for marijuana. The 27-year-old Strong Style Fight Team representative had won her previous seven bouts. Davis knows she has a difficult test on her hands.
“She’s a tough opponent,” Davis said in her pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “This is just as big of a fight, if not bigger, for her. There is a big chance this could shoot either one of us into a title shot.”
THIS & THAT
With the completion of UFC 170, the Mandalay Bay Events Center will have hosted 27 Ultimate Fighting Championship shows, tying it with the nearby MGM Grand Garden Arena for most all-time ... Sara McMann captured silver in freestyle wrestling at the 2004 Summer Olympics, losing on points to Japan’s Kaori Icho in the gold medal match ... Before he wrestled at Oklahoma State University, Daniel Cormier was a two-time junior college national champion at Colby Community College in Colby, Kan. He was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009 ... Neither Rory MacDonald nor Demian Maia has suffered consecutive professional defeats ... Mike Pyle was one of five men to win the World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight championship, along with Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, Karo Parisyan and Carlos Condit ... “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner Robert Whittaker hails from Middlemore, New Zealand, nearly 6,800 miles from the Mandalay Bay Events Center ... When Erik Koch was born on Oct. 4, 1988, the top five movies at the domestic box office were “Gorillas in the Mist,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Die Hard” and “Crossing Delancey” ... In his 25-bout career, Raphael Assuncao has enjoyed three separate winning streaks of five fights or more ... Undefeated Serra-Longo Fight Team prospect Aljamain Sterling has already held titles in the Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships promotions ... MMA Masters representative Yosdenis Cedeno has finished five foes inside one round.