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John Makdessi on Fear the Fighter fiasco: 'I was never involved in the business'

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Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Last week was bittersweet for UFC lightweight fighter John Makdessi.

On the plus side, the Montreal-based TriStar competitor was victorious in his return to action on Saturday night, scoring an impressive first-round TKO of Shane Campbell at UFC 186 n Makdessi's hometown Bell Centre.

But controversy also dogged Makdessi throughout fight week. Makdessi is listed as the company president of the MMA apparel brand Fear the Fighter. The company, which is in the process of reorganization, has been accused by several mixed martial artists of not paying monies due for sponsorships.

Gegard Mousasi has taken things one step further, filing suit against Makdessi and the company, which was run behind the scenes by his brother, David.

Looking to clear his name, John Makdessi went on Monday's edition of the MMA Hour. According to his side of the story, while his name was put forth in public as the president, he had nothing to do with the financial side of the business.

"I'm tired of people pointing fingers at me," Makdessi said. "I just wanted to clear that up. I was never involved in the business. They sponsored me, my brother helped me, took care of my sponsorship, he helped with the management side of my career, that's it. That was my only involvement with Fear the Fighter."

According to Makdessi, his brother has handled the business side of his career since long before Fear the Fighter came into existence. David Makdessi took care of the financials so John Makdessi could deal with the full-time training that goes with a high-level MMA career, the fighter said.

"I was always focused on my fighting career, I was always focused on my martial arts," Makdessi said. "That was my goal. I was never involved in the business aspect of Fear the Fighter. Yes, my older brother David Makdessi, yes I was part of Fear the Fighter. I was the inspiration behind it. But the whole team, there was so many people involved in Fear the Fighter, a lot of parties. My brother helped me on the business aspects, my brother helped me, he was always there before day one. He always helped me financially, he always made sure I was comfortable, he always made sure I was able to train full time."

Still, because he's the public face of the company, Makdessi had to endure his share of slings and arrows in public, including one Fear the Fighter-sponsored fighter, Michael Bispinginferring the company was run by "scumbags."

Makdessi says that he can ultimately only speak for himself on the matter, not his brother or their partners.

"The fighters are yelling and screaming out numbers," said Makdessi, who was not sponsored by FTF for UFC 186. "But we don't know what the managers are doing, you know how it is in this business. The business, can be, a lot of people are not telling the truth. People are throwing out numbers and pointing fingers. I understand, it's the name of the game, people want to blame people. I understand that. I'm a fighter. I know it's a lot of sting behind it. That being said, it's very unfortunate what's happened with all the fighters and there's a lot of speculation, but I just want to clear my name. I can't speak for my brother or any other person, all I can do is speak for myself. I was a sponsored athlete, I was never a part of the business. That was my part."

According to Makdessi, the company is being sold and reorganized. He's not in a position to promise whether fighters owed money will be repaid. All in all, he's eager to put the episode behind him.

"It bothers me a lot, because I work so hard for my name," Makdessi said. "I'm trying to build an image. I want to be a good role model. I want to inspire people. I came from nothing. I was a juvenile delinquent, I was in trouble with the police. I struggled in high school. Martial arts literally saved my life. It gave me a focus, it gave me a strength. It gave me a new outlook on life. I would never think in a hundred years I'd be a UFC fighter and be able to live my dreams. Its a great opportunity to be where I'm at now, and I don't take it for granted. That's why, everything I do, my image is important. It bothers me a lot when my name is thrown around."