clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Zach Makovsky sees a big opportunity to make a case for a title shot in a division hard up for contenders

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS – As with all reshaped cards, UFC Fight Night 82 is odd on a number of levels. For starters, with the heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum being scotched due to injuries, it’s no longer the pay-per-view it was intended to be.

Then there’s the matchmaking. Roy Nelson, who has lost back-to-back fights and five out of six overall, is fighting Jared Rosholt, who’s won three in a row, and five out of six in the UFC. Such a collision of opposite tending trajectories is unusual.

Although not quite, as something like that’s going on in the flyweight fight between Zach Makovsky and Joseph Benavidez, as well. Makovsky lost his last fight to John Dodson via unanimous decision, and two of three overall. Yet the guy he’s facing, Benavidez, is smoking hot, having won four in a row.

In this case, logic is trumped by circumstance. Benavidez would normally be right there vying for a title shot, but he’s already 0-2 against the man holding the strap, Demetrious Johnson. He’s also 0-2 against the man holding the 135-pound title, Dominick Cruz. Against everyone else he’s a perfect 23-0.

And as with all of those previous 23 guys he’s vanquished, there’s a big opportunity to leapfrog a top contender stuck in purgatory, which is exactly the way "Fun Size" Makovsky is looking at it.

"Anytime you get to fight guys that are at the top of the division it’s great, and Benavidez has been top of 125 and 135 for the last seven or eight years," he told MMA Fighting at Wednesday’s media day. "So anytime you get a chance to fight a guy like that it’s a huge opportunity. And it is kind of unique because I’m coming off a loss. It was a close fight with [John] Dodson, a fight I personally thought I won.

"The other thing is, Benavidez, he’s in a tough spot too. He’s lost to the champ twice, beaten most of the other top-ranked guys so, I’m the only guy that’s left for him. It was a match-up I wanted, and I’m excited to take it."

Since coming over to the UFC, the 32-year old Makovsky remains an intriguing name in the 125-pound division. The former Bellator champion is 3-2 overall, and has scored wins over Tim Elliott, Scott Jorgensen and Josh Sampo. His losses were against top-ranked guys, the narrow decision to Dodson and a decision to Jussier Formiga.

Yet because there’s a dearth of contenders at flyweight, Makovsky knows he could be one great showing away from getting the call.

"[Johnson]’s been wiping people out," he said. "The UFC has been going down the rankings — fairly far at times — to pick contenders out, and he’s just crushing everyone. So, he looks phenomenal. I’m always impressed to see Demetrious fight, and yeah, they’re looking for contenders. [Henry] Cejudo’s looking good. I think Cejudo can give him some trouble, but overall he doesn’t probably have the total package game to beat Demetrious. Well, that’s what I’m working for."

Makovsky and Benavidez square off on the main card on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.