John Makdessi UFC 124 weigh in pic by Joshua Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

In his promotional debut at UFC 124, John “The Bull” Makdessi (8-0) cruised past Pat Audinwood with his dynamic striking attack, and did so in front of a rabid hometown crowd in Montreal.

Makdessi’s comfort in front a large crowd will come in handy for his next test, a lightweight bout against The Ultimate Fighter 12 alum Kyle Watson (13-6-1) at UFC 129 in Toronto. Canadian fans snatched up more than 40,000 tickets in a matter of hours, and the show sold out in short order with well over 50,000 set to shatter the North American MMA attendance record.

Having a UFC fight to his credit, Makdessi feels better prepared and is looking forward to the event.

“It’s that saying of breaking the ice; I broke the ice and I more or less know how to prepare myself for the atmosphere,” Makdessi told “It’s a big show and I’m looking forward to fighting in a big stadium. It should be crazy.”

Watson has a strong grappling background, with ten of his career wins coming by submission. On the flip side, Makdessi’s striking prowess has helped him secure six of his eight career victories by KO or TKO.

However, Makdessi isn’t assuming that he’s going into a straightforward striker vs. grappler match-up.

“My theory, I don’t really think of my opponents like that,” he said. “It’s up to my team. I’m just training properly, working on my ground game and everything else.”

Plus, Makdessi’s philosophy isn’t to automatically attack someone’s perceived weaknesses. Training in various martial arts since the age of six, his warrior spirit pushes him to test himself against an opponent’s strength.

“I like to out-strike a striker; I like to out-wrestle a wrestler; I like to out-grapple a grappler,” Makdessi said. “A true fighter should always try to beat their opponents at whatever they’re good at. I’m always training with guys that are better than me so I can improve.”

But he also knows that other fighters don’t typically employ that same strategy, instead looking to take things where they’re the most comfortable.

“It’s no secret that I’m going to strike with the guy and he’s going to try and take me down. But I’m prepared for wherever it goes.”

Makdessi is constantly working to improve his all-around MMA game, even his already formidable striking, so he can seamlessly work in six different disciplines into one stand-up attack.

“My passion, my heart is striking and martial arts,” Makdessi said. “It’s not just stand up. I try and mix in karate, kickboxing, Muay Thai, boxing and Tae Kwon Do in one. That’s the hardest thing. There aren’t too many people that can do that, and I tried to showcased that in my last fight. If you really pay attention [to the Audinwood fight], I mixed a lot more than Tae Kwon Do.”

That’s why Makdessi could pose more of a threat to the lightweight division than his two-and-a-half years of professional experience would suggest.

“I believe having a background in other disciplines gives you a lot of basics to understand how to train,” Makdessi said. “A lot of MMA fighters don’t know how to train and they’re all over the place.”

Another angle to consider is that Watson has spent time training at the Tristar gym, alongside Makdessi, Georges St. Pierre — Watson’s coach on TUF 12 — and the other talented fighters under Firas Zahabi.

The issue of forcing sparring partners to fight once again came to a head prior to the UFC 128 light heavyweight clash between Jon Jones and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Jones trains at Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., alongside top contender Rashad Evans. After a lot of poking and prodding, the two have agreed to fight each other.

With the sport growing the way it is, Makdessi believes that those situations could become more prevalent, but added that sparring a training partner makes the mental preparation a lot different.

“He’s been one of my sparring partners, he’s trained with Georges,” Makdessi said of Watson. “He’s trained with my other training partners … so it’s pretty funny. I guess it’s a matter of time where guys in the same gym are going to fight each other, like Jon Jones and Evans.”

Asked if he was okay fighting a sparring partner, Makdessi replied, “Of course it is a big deal. In MMA it’s weird. I believe that everyone should have their training camp, [but] it’s becoming more of a business … politics.”

So it would be sort of like the NFL forcing a team to play an official game against itself that counts in the standings.

“Exactly,” he said. “You spar each other, you know their weakness and strengths. It’s just awkward. Mentally it’s different. You need to change your whole mindset.”


Makdessi asked to thank the following: HEADRUSH, Weider Nutrition Group, Tristar gym, Howard Grant boxing gym, Montreal wrestling club, and all of his fans and people who support “Team Bull”

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