UFC Fight Night 82: Joseph Benavidez Takes Dominant Decision over Zach Makovsky

Sydnie JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2016

Joseph Benavidez kicks Zach Makovsky
Joseph Benavidez kicks Zach MakovskyJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Zach "Fun Size" Makovsky, while enterprising and tough, could not outwit or outmuscle No. 1 flyweight Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Night 82 in Las Vegas. The three-round bout saw Benavidez answer anything Makovsky threw at him with ease. Despite Makovsky getting several takedowns, Benavidez stayed composed throughout the fight and his masterful performance earned him the unanimous decision.

Zach Makovsky scores a huge takedown on Joseph Benavidez
Zach Makovsky scores a huge takedown on Joseph BenavidezJosh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Benavidez was on a four-fight win streak coming into this fight, with his last loss coming via KO in a title fight against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. In fact, his four losses have come to Johnson or bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Otherwise, his record is a stunning 24-0.

No. 8 flyweight Makovsky's last fight was a decision loss to second-ranked John Dodson. Somehow, that translated to a shot at first-ranked Benavidez. The opportunity to leapfrog over several other contenders, potentially to a title eliminator fight, was a big one. But whether the Tristar Gym fighter took Benavidez down—which he did, several times—or engaged in striking, Benavidez proved too wily. UFC Vegas noted Benavidez's precision strikes:

The right then the clean left! @JoeJitsu showing off the hands! 👊 👊 #UFCVegas https://t.co/bYBQ2aVKOk

— #UFCVegas (@ufc) February 7, 2016

Makovsky managed to get several advantageous positions on Benavidez, including a standing rear mount with body triangle and several guillotine setups, but he could never fully capitalize on them. Benavidez's methodical, calm defense made Makovksy's attacks look like little more than nuisances to be batted away. The Team Alpha Male fighter knocked Makovsky down toward the end of the third with a combo that included a spinning elbow, but the bell rang before Benavidez could finish him off. Bloody Elbow pointed out Benavidez's ability to consistently control the fight, even during the vulnerable moments:

Benavidez is just controlling this fight, even when he's getting hit or getting taken down. #UFCVegas

— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) February 7, 2016

After the announcement, Benavidez said he thought wrestler Henry Cejudo hadn't earned a title shot, and asked to fight him for a title elimination. However, moments before the fight, third-ranked Cejudo was announced as Johnson's next opponent for UFC 197, per UFC.com's Thomas Gerbasi. It's not as clear now who Benavidez should face next, except, perhaps, the winner of Johnson vs. Cejudo. He's beaten most of the top 10, and there's no one above him, except the champ.

Makovsky has now gone 2-3 in his last five and may be showing some wear and tear and, despite his excellent nickname, does not offer much name recognition in the sport. Ali Bagautinov or up-and-comer Justin Scoggins are possible opponents for him, as Makovsky may act as a gatekeeper for the division.

With this win, Benavidez's overall record is 24-4. The next flyweight title defense is at UFC 197 on April 23 in Las Vegas, with Johnson and Cejudo as the co-main event.