You wouldn’t know it from looking at UFC lightweight John Makdessi, but he’s a very anxious guy.
It starts when he gets a call from his promoter, offering a fight, and as he puts it, “That’s when I get more intense and more concentrated and focused on the preparation.”
Makdessi (12-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who on Saturday meets Alan Patrick (11-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at UFC 169, shows up on fight week looking relaxed and confident. In reality, though, he’s been through an intense grind to get there, mainly because he never stopped preparing from his last fight.
“The thing for me is [MMA is] not a sometimes thing,” he told MMAjunkie Radio. “I don’t do any training camps. I train when I feel like it because every day I wake up tired and busted up, and I have to diet and cut weight.
“Maybe a couple days I don’t feel like training, but at the end of the day, I don’t go with how I feel. I go with my goals and what drives me. And what drives me is to leave a legacy behind.”
UFC 169 takes place at Newark, N.J.’s Prudential Center. Makdessi and Patrick fight on the FOX Sports 1-televised preliminary card, which precedes the night’s pay-per-view main card.
Makdessi said he’s turned a corner in his career, and from his results inside the octagon, it’s hard to argue. After suffering back-to-back losses, he’s won his past three fights, including a first-round knockout of Renee Forte in his most recent outing.
A win over Patrick would boost his stock even more and perhaps earn him a shot at a top-10 opponent.
All that hard training appears to have paid off, but Makdessi said another type of work has brought him better results.
“I’m more comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Makdessi. “I do a lot of mental training; I find that mentality is more important than physical training.”
The main thrust of that work runs contrary to his intense nature. As it turns out, that laser-like focus and intensity is one of the main reasons he sought out someone to help him turn around his career.
“When you strive for perfection, you’re striving for excellence,” he said. “Every day, it’s a mental thing. When you strive to be the best, I’m always be my worst critic. I always want to work hard and keep pushing myself to the limits and see where I can take myself.”
Makdessi said he’s learned to let off the pressure by letting his coaches do the worrying for him. Asked about Patrick, he said he’s watched film, but not let it take over his mind in the buildup to the fight.
“I don’t really think much of any fight,” he said. “I let my trainer tell me which department he’s slacking on, and I capitalize. I let my trainers worry about what my opponent is going to do.”
The undefeated Patrick holds four wins via KO and two via submission, but has hinted he’ll take Makdessi to the ground, where he presumably is more beatable. That’s fine for Makdessi, but he’d prefer it if his opponent would engage with him.
“I think I showcased in my last two fights that it takes two guys to fight,” he said. “God willing, hopefully everything goes according to plan. My fights are very entertaining and exciting to watch.”
Whatever the outcome, Makdessi will be back in the gym if he’s uninjured. There’s more to chip away at, more perfection to chase, and only so much time to earn a flawless victory. At 28, his athletic prime is near.
The mental grind, meanwhile, keeps him running to realize it.
“People see the fight, but people don’t see the process,” Makdessi said. “Every day, I struggle with myself, and the training and the fighting is an every day thing.”
For the latest on UFC 169, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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