Zach Makovsky knows he’s in for a challenge Friday when he defends his Bellator bantamweight title against Eduardo Dantas.
“I think he’s a very talented kid from a phenomenal team,” Makovsky told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I think he’s very well rounded. I don’t think he does anything too tricky or too fancy, but he’s very good at what he does. He likes to move forward, throw good punches. He throws hard kicks and knees a lot. He’s a black belt from Nova Uniao, so he’s obviously very talented on the ground.”
Dantas earned the shot by winning the bantamweight tournament in Bellator’s fifth season. In the opening round, he knocked out Wilson Reis -- one of only two men to have beaten Makovsky. It was an impressive finish, too, with Dantas landing a flying knee and finishing off Reis with punches.
“He’s landed a lot of good knees throughout the whole tournament, throughout his whole career from what I’ve seen,” Makovsky said. “He knocked Wilson Reis out with one. It’s definitely something I’m going to be careful of. It’s just about getting him to react the way you want and then shooting on that. Obviously there’s always a chance you can get hit. I’m going to try to avoid that.”
After beating Reis, Dantas edged Ed West on a split decision in the tournament semifinals. Makovsky paid particular attention to that matchup -- he's fought West himself and also trained with him after the Dantas fight.
“I think this fight with [Dantas] is similar to a fight with Ed West,” he said. “Not that they have the same style on the ground or standing, but Ed West is also a good striker and good on the ground, like Dantas. I actually made a trip out to Arizona to train with Ed in February and got some good training with him and some background. He fought Dantas already. He’s like the same exact height and body type. It was good to work with Ed a little bit and get some inside information.”
Dantas won another decision in the tournament finals, outpointing Alexis Vila. Meanwhile Makovsky has been victorious in two non-title bouts. He’ll be putting his belt on the line for the first time Friday, and that’s the way Makovsky prefers to compete -- with the title up for grabs -- even if he’s fighting someone like Dantas who has the skills to take it.
“I think I have a good style to match up with him,” Makovsky said. “I think I’ll be able to control the wrestling aspect. I’ll be able to take him down when I want. He’s probably going to -- as soon as we get to the ground -- try to escape back to his feet. It might be kind of a battle of if I can control him on the ground or not. But there’s no easy road. He’s really good standing and he’s really good on the ground. Wherever it ends up, it’s going to be a difficult fight. I think I can put everything together and transition from one thing to the next, and hopefully that will be the difference.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 53:45).