John Makdessi admits his patience was tested at UFC 158. Opponent Daron Cruickshank complained about a low kick that Makdessi didn’t think landed illegally. Cruickshank complained about a shot to the back of the head – after he had turned his back to Makdessi.
The scratches, though, bothered him more than anything.
“I thought he was a little bit disrespectful at one point because he had a weird defense, and he kept shoving his fingers in my face,” Makdessi today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “It was a little irritating in the second round. In the last (round), he poked me.
“I was full of scratches – my whole body, my whole neck. my back. I was all scratched up. I don’t know if it was his glove or his nails or whatever.”
Despite the scratches, which likely resulted from Cruickshank’s open-hand strikes and blocks, Makdessi took home a unanimous-decision victory at Saturday’s UFC 158 event at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Makdessi (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Cruickshank (12-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) fought on the FX-televised preliminary card.
For Makdessi, who fights out of Montreal with Tristar Gym, it was a memorable win. After suffering the first two losses of his career in 2012, the lightweight now has rebounded with a pair of victories. And getting both of them on home soil has been special.
“The Bell Centre, it’s an incredible feeling – the energy, the vibe, everything,” he said. “It was a crazy experience.”
And this is a guy who knows something about crazy experiences. After all, he had more than 55,000 people buzzing after he scored a highlight-reel spinning-backfist knockout of Kyle Watson at Toronto’s massive UFC 129 stadium show in 2011.
Although Makdessi has proven knockout power – he won his first six pro fights via strikes – he admits Cruickshank initially threw him off his game plan.
“If I’m trying to box with a guy and he has his fingers sticking out in my face, I’m always aware of that,” he said. “It’s hard for me to box with him, strike with him, if he’s doing that. … I’m not saying he’s doing it intentionally, but it was very weird for me. It was the first time I had a fight like that.”
A bout that many fans predicted would end in a “Fight of the Night” or “Knockout of the Night” bonus instead went to the judges, who scored it 29-28 for Makdessi. It wasn’t the stoppage he wanted, but a win is a win, and as the competition gets tougher, he knows he needs to keep his mind sharper while the fight is going on.
“Unfortunately, in MMA, we only have three rounds,” he said. “In boxing, they go up to 12 rounds. Sometimes, for three or four rounds, the fighters are feeling each other out. But we both respected each other, and we both knew what we were capable of.
“It’s a process. It’s a chess game. I just don’t want to walk into anything. I try to be a smart fighter in the sense of feeling him out and what he’ll throw at me. I’m trying to calculate moves and counters and timing and whatever it is. There’s a lot of things going in my head, and I’m just trying to process it.”
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