Does a fighter have to hate his opponent?
According to Bellator bantamweight champion Zach Makovsky, the answer is no.
“It’s not a like a regular fight outside—where it’s spontaneous and emotional,” Makovsky said, about being a mixed a martial artist. “It’s very skill and tactic oriented. I can keep emotion out of it.”
Whereas some mixed martial artists like Nick Diaz and Paul Daley look at each bout as a pure war, Makovsky is the opposite.
“I am able to identify with this as a sport,” Makovsky said.
Now, as Bellator champion, Makovsky prepares for his next title fight. He will be defending against the winner of the current bantamweight tournament. The first matches took place last Saturday.
“I’m really just excited to sit back and watch it,” Makovsky said. “There’s a ton of talented guys in it, and it’s hard to pick one clear favorite.”
One of the favorites, featherweight champion Joe Warren, was knocked out in the first round of his opening night match. Makovsky, however, still has a lot a respect for the highly credentialed Greco-Roman wrestling star.
“He’s an extremely ambitious guy,” Makovsky said of Bellator’s featherweight champion. “He’s got two guys waiting to take his title in his weight class. He wants to go win a gold medal.”
Originally, Makovsky was going to wait for his next fight to be against the winner of the tournament. However, when Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez came down with an injury, Makovsky stepped in.
He is set to take on MMA journeyman Ryan Roberts in a non-title fight October 15.
Makovsky is very happy to be competing in the upstart organization.
“I really like fighting with Bellator,” Makovsky said. “They treat me well. I was pretty obscure before I entered the tournament. I like the idea that the tournament lets you control your own destiny.”
Having won the tournament and become champion, Makovsky is building a reputation for himself. He has 13 wins in 15 fights, and he does think about fighting the guys people perceive are the best in the world.
“I’ve been watching the UFC since I’ve been in high school,” Makovsky said. “In a way, you’re still like looking up to these guys and admiring what they do, but yeah, I like to think of how I could do in there.”
Makovsky believes the UFC has many great competitors—just not all of them.
“I would love to compete with some of those guys,” Makovsky said. “There are rankings out there, but I don’t think they really mean too much until everyone fights everybody.”
One guy in particular is Dominick Cruz.
“It’s going to be hard to tell,” Makovsky said, when asked how he would do in a fight with the UFC’s bantamweight champion. “I think I’m pretty well-rounded in my skill set. I think Cruz is looking phenomenal lately, but I actually think (Demetrius” Johnson is going to give him some problems.”
From watching Cruz’s fights, Makovsky has a strategy.
“Whoever is going to beat him is going to have to go at him and not let him do his thing,” Makovsky said. “You really have to go at him and keep him on the defensive. Keep him having to react to you.”
Should Makovsky and Cruz ever have the chance to fight, Makovsky will treat it as a true professional sport.
“I try not to take anything too personally,” Makovsky said. “I think it would take a lot for me to really hate somebody.”
Building the reputation of Bellator and MMA is very important to the Bellator champ. He does not have to dislike the man staring at him across the cage, but he is willing to fight him.
That is what he likes most about Bellator.
“You get to earn your way to the top by fighting and not necessarily by being picked by match making.”