Hallman is Makdessi's big test

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:13 PM ET

If John Makdessi fears one thing when he steps into the octagon, itís losing.

But itís the thought of defeat that pushes him every day in the gym.

ďMentally, you prepare yourself what to expect so you can envision more or less how itís going to turn out,Ē Makdessi told QMI Agency. ďIn my head, I go through so many scenarios. Thatís the most stressful thing ó I fear (losing) so much. I worry so much. Thatís what makes me train so much and train harder and harder so Iím ready for anything.

ďItís something I canít even think about. I canít let it enter my head. For me itís unacceptable. I know thatís extreme ó anything is possible ó but for me, I canít even look at it like that. I canít waste any energy focusing on that. My goal is to be victorious.Ē

Luckily for the Laval, Que., lightweight, his fear hasnít become a reality. Makdessi, who trains with welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre at Tristar Gym in Montreal, owns a perfect 9-0 record with victories over Pat Audinwood and Kyle Watson since joining the UFC last December. He looks to push his winning streak to double digits when he meets veteran Dennis Hallman at UFC 140 in Toronto on Dec. 10.

With over 60 professional MMA fights under his belt, including two submission victories over UFC Hall of Fame inductee Matt Hughes, Hallman is easily the most experienced fighter Makdessi has ever faced.

But itís no secret Hallman will look to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible.

ďHeís dropping to 155; heís coming to my weight,Ē Makdessi said. ďMy goal is to hit and move. Iím going to make sure he wonít be able to see me. Heís a very one-dimensional fighter, he just comes straight forward at you. My goal is to hit him from angles and make sure he canít touch me.

ďIn my gym, Tristar, the majority of fighters are grapplers. Iíve been preparing myself and I also train on the ground. Itís not like I donít like to go on the ground, stand-up is just my forte. Iíve been doing it all my life, but I do wrestle and grapple. There are no issues there. Even strikers have tried to take me to the ground. Iím used to that.Ē

Despite seven of his victories coming by way of KO or TKO, Makdessi admits heís relatively new to the types of boxing and Muay Thai techniques that are often employed in MMA.

At the age of six he began training in taekwondo, then took up karate over a decade later. Heís only been fighting in mixed martial arts for three years now.

Since so many fighters come from wrestling, jiu jitsu or Muay Thai backgrounds, Makdessi has been forced to undergo a crash course in MMA. But by incorporating his own striking background with the more common disciplines seen in the sport, heís proven to be one of the most unique stand-up fighters on the UFC roster.

ďI find that in MMA, the best style is having no style,Ē Makdessi said. ďThatís something that Iím learning. Iíve only been doing MMA for a few years. Iím so new to the game Ė coming from a kickboxing background.

ďMy stand-up is still my stand-up, but itís new to me in the sense of boxing and Muay Thai. Iíve been doing them for three years now. My grappling, Iíve been doing it for three or four years and my wrestling for two years. Iím still learning. Having no style is the best style. There are so many techniques to achieve as a fighter. Thatís the hardest thing.Ē

Perhaps the best example of Makdessiís ability to utilize a new technique is the stunning, spinning backfist knockout of Watson at UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre in April.

Makdessi drilled the move in training for months, but never attempted it in a fight. Then, in the third round, he sensed it was the right time to throw it.

The shot knocked Watson unconscious and it took several minutes for him to get back to his feet.

ďFighting is fighting and you donít have time to think,Ē Makdessi said. ďYou have to have a fast reaction because everything comes on instinct. Thatís why thereís high repetition in training. You do something over and over again a thousand times so it can become second nature to you.

ďI was training the spinning backfist before I even fought Pat Audinwood. So it took me that many months to develop it and for it to actually work in one of my fights. There are things I train all my life and you never see them in a fight. There are so many tools. If they come out, they come out; if they donít, they donít. You canít really plan it. Everything comes out on instinct.

ďPeople who tell you theyíre going to come out and do this and that ó for me, itís all BS. In the moment of action and everything is kicking in, you donít have time to think.Ē

FOR THE RECORD

(Dennis Hallman is easily the most experienced fighter John Makdessi has ever faced. The two meet at UFC 140 in Toronto Dec. 10. Hereís a look at some of Hallmanís more notable victories.)

* Submitted Matt Hughes via guillotine choke (Extreme Challenge 21)

* Submitted Matt Hughes via armbar (UFC 29)

* Unanimous decision over Ben Saunders (UFC 117)

* TKO victory over Karo Parisyan (UFC 123)


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