Home news John Makdessi is fighting to be one of Canada's best UFC fighters

John Makdessi is fighting to be one of Canada's best UFC fighters

John Makdessi reacts after a TKO victory over Shane Campbell in Montreal on April 25th 2015.

Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press

Lightweight Montreal John (The Bull) Makdessi climbs the Octagon on Saturday for the sixteenth time.

Among Canadians, only Georges St-Pierre (22), Patrick (The Predator) Cote (21) and Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout (20) have more UFC fights to their credit, and all three are retired.

The 33-year-old Makdessi is still strong.

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"My goal is to be one of the best Canadian fighters in the UFC," Makdessi said in an interview. "It is an honor for me to represent Canada and also my heritage – the Lebanese".

A long-time member of Tristar Gym in Montreal, Makdessi is now training in Milwaukee under the guidance of the four-time kickboxing world champion Duke Roufus.

It is a solitary existence. He says for now "MMA is my wife, she is my girlfriend, she is my best friend."

"All I do is watch the tape and eat, sleep and train – three, four hard workouts a day," he said.

But Makdessi, who is very close to his family in Montreal, says that solitary journeys south of the border to work with Roufus and the likes of former lightweight champion Anthony (Showtime) Pettis and light contender Paul ( The Irish Dragon) Felder made him a better martial artist.

"He is a great man. Very passionate, very knowledgeable," Makdessi, who won two victories and three of his last four, said of Roufus.

"I can't be in better hands."

Makdessi (16-6-0) faces the Peruvian Jesus (El Mudo) Penudo (16-4-1) on the undercard of a UFC television show in Nashville. The two were matched last week after their original opponents had retired due to injury.

Welterweight contender Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson faces Pettis in the main event at Bridgstone Arena. Thompson (14-3-1) is ranked No. 3 among the 170-pound contenders, while Pettis (21-8-0), gaining weight, is the number 8 contender among the 155 pounds.

While a slight underpower, the five-meter Makdessi is an experienced striker with a deep arsenal. He holds one of the few UFC interruptions by turning his fist again (against Kyle Watson of UFC 129 in Toronto in April 2011).

But Makdessi, born in Halifax, whose record in the UFC is 9-6-0, was also the nail and not the hammer.

Facing light contender Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone on short notice at UFC 187 in May 2015, Makdessi was forced to retire late in the second round with a broken jaw. Makdessi was giving up five inches in height and reach.

And at UFC 206 in Toronto, in December 2016, Lando Vannata grounded him with a rotating kick to the head. The painful loss prompted him to sit down and review his training and the people around him.

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Not your normal fighter, Makdessi is open to the stress of climbing into a cage and trying to convince someone to make a living. Not to mention trying to do it in a fun way.

But he says that mixed martial arts were "a kind of escape from everyday life". He started at the age of six and said that the training years kept him tough and disciplined.

"I feel that I'm still learning," he said.

Yet it's hard not to be a tough guy when your name is John Wayne Makdessi.

Makdessi has long documented his journey as a martial artist through a diary as well as photos and videos. It is a parallel project that has been years of work on "the sacrifices of being a fighter".

His Instagram feed is full of quotes and inspired lessons learned in the most difficult way.

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"I hope I can give young people some wisdom if they decide to choose a trip as a martial artist," he said.

"There is a lot to learn as an athlete and a fighter, even as an independent entrepreneur," he added. "Because you are essentially a self-employed person.

"There are a lot of things going on behind the scenes like a fighter and I want to be a good model for young people who grow up to teach them how to be smart when it comes to choosing this path. Because many fighters don't have fathers or don't have good mentors to guide them in the right way. Many of these fighters are alone. It is a very hard sport. "

Makdessi is already making plans outside of combat. He and his brother run a dinner club called Taiga Laval in Laval, Que.

The Nashville map contains two other Canadians.

Alexis Davis, a native of Port Colborne, Ontario. who now fights from California, faces Jennifer Maia of Brazil and Randa (Quiet Storm) Markos of Windsor, Ontario, who faces American Angela (Overkill) Hill.

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Davis (19-8-0) is in fifth place among the contenders of the flying weights, while Maia (15-5-1) is the n. 11. Markos (8-7-1) is in fifteenth place among 115 pounds. Hill (8-5-0) is not classified.

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