UFC 129: John Makdessi Talks Mixed Martial Arts Way of Life

John Makdessi

Gearing up for UFC 129, John “The Bull” Makdessi talks about pressure, training, and how martial arts changed his life.

To UFC lightweight John Makdessi, fighting is not just a sport, it is a way of life.

More and more athletes are moving into the world of mixed martial arts, but as Makdessi tells HeavyMMA.com, they are often missing the most important thing.

“It’s not just coming here and doing MMA, it’s the fundamental of martial arts that I believe many fighters are missing.  And that to me is the most important thing.  I looked up to Bruce Lee and his philosophy of martial arts; it makes total sense.  I truly believe that it is 90% mental, 10% physical.  Everyone trains [different aspects], everyone has two hands and two feet, but it’s how mentally prepared you are to go to battle.

“I look up to Cro Cop, Anderson Silva, Machida, and Georges St-Pierre.  These guys are true fighters.”

What separates those men from the pack is their background and lifelong commitment to martial arts and training.  Makdessi would know, as he has been doing martial arts in one form or another for 19 years.  It is also why he is rather particular about who he chooses to train with.

“I like to train with, more or less, ‘old souls’.  Guys that have been around for a long time and are better than me in a sense of their [specific] discipline.”

Despite all of the attention to traditional disciplines, Makdessi remains focused on constantly evolving into the best contemporary MMA fighter he can be.

“I’m still new in the sport. Since MMA is with the kickboxing aspect and boxing aspect and all the other aspects it’s basically a different type of breed of fighters.  I’m adjusting myself to that type of mentality and that type of fighting style.  I train every discipline; I train my ground game.

“I’ve been striking because it’s in my heart, it’s in my blood.

“My background is Karate Shotokan, Taekwondo, I got a kickboxing background…..but my boxing, my muay thai, my wrestling, my ground game is really all new to me compared to my old disciplines that I trained back in the day.”

Those disciplines that he trained ‘back in the day’ changed in life.  That is why he remains a life-long student and could never forsake martial arts.

“For me martial arts actually saved my life.  I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but it really did.  At one point in my teenage years, I was lost.  I was always getting into fights.  Nothing was going for me.  For me to go to a gym, to learn my discipline and to learn self-confidence and to turn negative energy into positive energy, that’s why martial arts for me is a life saver.  It’s been so good to me, I’ll sacrifice my body for it.  That’s the only thing in my life that makes sense actually.

“All my life, I never had an easy way out.  I always have to kill myself in training- I’m always sore.  I fight so I can take care of my family and give back to my community.”

For his next fight, Makdessi will be fighting at UFC 129 in the largest MMA event in North American history.  With the UFC setting such a large stage for men like Makdessi, he is ready to perform and display his techniques, despite the pressure.

“There is always pressure.  I’m always stressed out.  But I’ve been competing since six years old.  Hopefully it’s going to work out to my benefit.  I am hoping for good energy.  I believe that the crowd gives me a burst.

“I want to be an entertainer and fight for the crowd, and then at the same time I want to do it as smart as possible and as tactically as possible.  I don’t want to be known as a brawler. I want to be known as a tactician.”

In a clash of styles, Makdessi’s opponent at UFC 129 is Kyle Watson, a fighter known for his grappling prowess.  Confident in his training and abilities, Makdessi is a true professional ready for any opponent.

“I fought good guys on the ground already.  I worked a lot of my defense, and my offense also.

“I’m aware he’s a good wrestler and grappler and has a lot of Jiu-Jitsu experience.  Hopefully my arsenal and my experience in martial arts is going to be key for this fight.”