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Bellator 135 Champ Zach Makovsky: I could match-up well against Cruz and Faber (Exclusive Interview)
Bellator Bantamweight Champion Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky (12-2) will step inside the Bellator cage this weekend, facing the unbeaten prospect Chad Robichaux (11-0) in a non-title contest at Bellator 41.
Currently enjoying a six-fight winning streak, 27 year old Makovsky became the Bellator Inagural Bantamweight Champion at Bellator 32, after defeating Ed West via a Unanimous Decision. On his way to the title, “Fun Size” went through Nick Mamalis and Bryan Goldsby, defeating both via a Unanimous Decision. Makovsky’s only defeats are against the current Bellator Featherweight Tournament Semi-Finalist Wilson Reis and Koshiaki Kitada.
Bellator 41 will take place this Saturday (April 16th) at Cocopah Resort and Casino in Yuma, Arizona. Catchweight (137lbs) bout between Joe Warren and Marcos Galvao will be featured as the co-main event attraction of the night. As always, the event will be aired LIVE on MTV2 at 9p/8c.
Here’s what Zach Makovsky had to say about preparations for Chad Robichaux, and his evolution as a Mixed Martial Artist:
Can you talk about where you’re training at, and who are your teammates?
Yeah, sure. I’m training at the Philadelphia Fight Factory. The head trainer there is Stephen Haigh. Phenomenal trainer, who knows more than anyone about the sport. As far as teammates, Eddie Alvarez of course. He’s always teaching me things, so it’s always great to learn from his experience. Tara La Rosa, one of the top female fighters in the world. She has a lot of experience as well. And there’s also a bunch of other talented guys who are simply great to train with.
Great. Your opponent, Chad Robichaux, is currently 11-0 in his career, with most of his victories coming via submission. Do you think that’s the area where you have to be extremely cautious?
Yeah, you have to prepare for his strengths. His ground game is great, and that’s where he takes most of his fights. But I like to mix things up, and to fight on both feet and on the ground. His record is awesome, but I don’t think he ever fought a top tier fighter. However, I’m not sure if that means anything, because he went through everyone and his record is impressive. I’m still excited to fight him and confident that I’m well rounded enough to fight him wherever the fight goes. So yeah, I’ll be ready for scenario in this one.
Considering the fact that two of your only defeats came via a submission, do you have any concerns about going to the ground with him?
Well, no. I think I grew a lot during the past few years, and improved a lot as a fighter. The only time I felt when I was really overwhelmed on the ground is when I fought Wilson Reis. That was in January of 2008. I’m friends with Wilson now and we train together. So I’m much better on the ground now. And when I fought in Japan I just made a mistake… I still feel like I’m a better fighter than my opponent that night. You make mistakes and you learn from them.
Do you consider Wrestling as most effective aspect of MMA? (You can find Ben Askren’s answer on the same question here)
It’s definitely nice to have wrestling skills in fight. You can control the pace, stop takedowns and execute takedowns at will. But MMA wrestling is a lot different than the traditional competitive wrestling, and I think a lot of people don’t understand that. I don’t like to pick one over the other. I think you have to be well-rounded in order to succeed in this sport. That’s the key.
Looking back at your great achievement of winning the Bellator Bantamweight Title, how important it was for you as a fighter?
It was extremely important. Especially from an experience perspective; you get 11 rounds in three weeks, compete against some of the best in the World, and of course there’s a lot of money involved. More than I ever had in my career. I really enjoy competing on big stage, and really confident that it will help me in the future.
Of course you’re a proud Bellator Bantamweight Champion. But what about the UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and the current #1 Cointender Urijah Faber? How do you match-up against them, in your opinion?
I don’t know. I’ve looked up at those guys since the day I’m fighting. I would love to get a chance to compete with them, but UFC and most of the other MMA organizations don’t cross-promote. As a fighter, of course I would love to see how I match-up with them. I’m continuing to develop, physically I think I can take them out, however there’s also an experience factor. It’s really hard to tell, but I think I’ll match-up pretty well against them.
And at the age of 28, do you feel like you’re coming closer to the peak of your career?
I’m not 28 yet, I’ll be 28 a couple of days after the fight (laughing). I’m healthy and I really feel like 28 to 32 may be my athletic peak. I feel great, I have a lot of experience now as a fighter and really confident in my abilities to put this whole thing together. I really feel like my best years are yet to come.
I know it’s a difficult question, and it’s really quite early to ask, but do you see yourself following the Randy Couture example by competing beyond the age of 45?
I’d say that he’s kinda against the norm. Most of the fighters get out of the sport at their later 30′s, so I think that’s the norm. It’s really hard to say. It depends on a lot of things, such as injuries, overall health and of course motivation.
What’s the biggest difference between Zach Makovsky who lost in Japan two years ago, and the one who’s now the Bellator Bantamweight Champion?
I think it’s the matter of experience and confidence. I really started coming to my own about what’s the level of my game and what I can accomplish. I put now much less pressure on myself before the fight. Win or lose, what’s important for me is to perform at my best. That’s really my only goal, and as long as I continue to improve, things will happen for me. The biggest part of any sport is the learning process. Right now I’m fully concentrated on learning and improving my game, so in my opinion, that’s the biggest difference.
Finally, your prediction for April 16th?
I expect a great fight. I’ll be ready for whatever happens inside that cage.
And would you like to mention any sponsors?
I would like to thank my trainer Stephen Haigh, Philadelphia Fight Factory and also the Jackson Wrestling team for helping me train. That’s it.
Alright Zack, thanks a lot for your time, and good luck on April 16th!
Thanks a lot.