Posts Tagged ‘Bellator’
Bellator Beat was back on MMADieHards.com and the MMA DieHards Radio Network as Hector Castro and Manny Rodriguez welcomed Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren and light heavyweight tournament semifinalist Tim Carpenter.
Finding a home with Bellator Fighting Championships in the aftermath of Elite XC’s closure, Zack Makovsky has used his opportunity with the Chicago-based promotion to springboard into a standing amongst the elites at 135 pounds.
Winning the outfit’s inaugural bantamweight championship in the fall of last year, “Fun Size” successfully emerged from a four-tier tournament to be crowned the new champion, having demonstrated technical, submission and endurance capabilities worthy of a title holder along the way.
Joining hosts Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network cageside at Bellator 39, Makovsky discussed his humble background training out of Philadelphia, the ups and downs of the tournament format Bellator features so strongly and the ever-present dilemmas associated with weight-cutting. Beforehand however, the fighter with a record of 12-2 spoke of his championship status and how, as a face of the promotion, he measures up against bantamweights in other organizations, including the duo of Urijah Faber and UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
“It’s hard to say. I honestly feel I can compete against any 135-pounder in the world,” Makovsky said on the show. “I would love a chance to fight those guys, they obviously get the most recognition because they’re in the UFC and people automatically assume they’re the best. I’m not saying they’re not — Cruz has been looking unbelievable as of late — but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nobody else out there. Until there’s cross-promotions and you can have one real unified champion, you never know. It’s left up to all the fans of the sport to decide. I try not to worry about it, I just sit back and fight the people put in front of me and let everything else take care of itself.”
While the idea of cross-promotion outside of Zuffa remains non-negotiable following the company’s recent acquisition of Strikeforce, Bellator’s tournament style of fight booking does lend itself to assuring the most deserving competitor is recognized for their efforts. Makovsky reiterated this notion, citing the advantages of such rigorous competition in spite of its compacted schedule.
“I really like the tournament idea,” said Makovsky. “I wish there was a little bit more time between fights. I fought every three weeks, which was pretty rough. So I fought three times in six weeks, then I had six months off.
“I like the way Bellator doesn’t pick their title fights, they don’t choose who’s going to challenge for the title so they influence who the champion is, you have to win the tournament and earn the right to fight for the title. I think that’s a good philosophy and it brings the best fighters out in the end. Personally, the tournament was very difficult going through all those fights in a row without time to relax. But I think all that experience in such a short space of time really did improve my game and help take it to the next level.”
Arguably the biggest flaw of this model, however, lies with the lengthy process through which a new title contender is named. With potential candidates having to win a tournament of their own before competing for a championship, Makovsky remains active in the interim period competing in non-title bouts such as his upcoming clash with Chad Robichaux at Bellator 41 on Saturday in Yuma, Ariz. Despite remaining champion regardless of the night’s outcome, Makovsky remains adamant that this comfort does not alter his pre-fight preparations.
“I really try not to think about it like that, you know, it’s just another fight and I go out there to fight and fight the best I can,” Makovsky maintained. “The belt’s nice to have and I’m very happy to be the champion, but I’m just trying to become the best I can be. I don’t think I feel any added pressure or less pressure in a non-title fight. I’m just going in there to do what I can do, that’s about it.
“I’ve got a tough guy. He’s undefeated at 11-0. I think 10 of his 11 wins have come by submission. I don’t know how many people he’s fought of a high caliber, whether that necessarily means anything, so we’ll see (what happens).”
Training out of the Philadelphia Fight Factory, the former NCAA Division I wrestler attributed a great deal of the success he has met in his relatively short MMA career to the intimate nature of the camp. In particular, “Fun Size” alluded to coach Stephen Haigh as the driving force behind the academy’s production of world class fighters, including Bellator’s lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and current No.2-ranked pound-for-pound female mixed martial artist Tara LaRosa.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are still up and coming in the amateurs, awesome guys, and I think Steve is the perfect guy to lead us and teach us all,” Makovsky acknowledged. “I think he designed his gym like that, not from a business model perspective but instead creating the best team he can. The gym doesn’t make a ton of money, but it’s filled with an awesome group of guys. That’s what was important to him and you can see the results.
“He let me live with him and his wife for over a year for free, so I owe him big time. He’s the most talented guy I’ve ever dealt with, he handles everyone in the gym in every aspect of the sport. Everybody. He really does.”
Within such a dedicated environment, Makovsky has had no problems making 135 pounds during his time with Bellator. Two weeks before his bout with Robichaux, the champion appeared content with his weight, revealing there were other, more significant assets of his game revolving around speed that detracted from the issue of size that so many mixed martial artists concern themselves with.
“This is actually the heaviest I’ve been in a while now,” Makovsky admitted. “I’m walking around at about 147 (pounds) and its still only 11 or 12 pounds over. It won’t be difficult (to make weight). Usually I don’t get much heavier than that, 145 at the most but I feel good, training is going really well.
“I personally don’t think that cutting weight is that big of an advantage. I’ve been wrestling my whole life and actually cut weight in second grade, so I’ve got kind of sick of cutting it a lot.”
One time he literally got sick. Extremely sick.
“I had a bad experience in college where I was wrestling at 125 and wasn’t supposed to start over the next two matches, so I let my weight get up,
Makovsky recounted. “The guy ahead of me got injured and I had to cut 17 pounds in less that 48 hours. I tried to make it, but I ended up in the hospital, my kidneys were only functioning at 50 percent of what they should have been, I had an irregular heartbeat because I was so dehydrated and I had to have all these tests. So I decided I’m not going to push it too much.
“I’ll get as strong as I can for that weight class, but I feel like my strength has never been a factor in any fight I’ve had, even the fights I’ve lost, so I really have no reason to go down. I feel great at the weight I compete at.”
As a bantamweight champion in one of the most prestigious organizations outside of Zuffa’s empire, there are few who could argue with Makovsky’s decision. Through trial and error, hard work and with the help of a close-knit training camp, the 28-year-old has hit his stride in the world of MMA. It remains to be seen, however, whether Bellator’s lengthy tournaments continue to satisfy Makovsky’s competitive desire.
There is nothing too funky about “Funky” Ben Askren’s wrestling. It’s flat-out dominant.
The former US Olympic wrestler did not put his welterweight belt on the line Saturday, but Askren showed off his game in a three-round domination of Nick Thompson in the headlining match at Bellator 40 at First Council Casino in Newkirk, Okla.
Askren (8-0) put the grappling ace on his back and kept him there nearly the length of the three-round match to claim a unanimous decision, winning every round, including one by 10-8 in the mind of one of the judges. The most offense Thompson (38-14-1) mustered was in the final moments, but Askren was not in any trouble at any moment.
“It felt great,”said Askren, celebrating his first wedding anniversary. “Still unbeaten. How do you like me now?”
Askren’s next opponent might well have been fighting in the match that took place immediately before his, as Jay Hieron (21-4) reached the finals of the Season 4 welterweight tournament with a unanimous decision victory over Brent Weedman.
Hieron will take on Rick Hawn in the finals of the tournament. The winner gets a title shot against Askren.
“He came to fight,” Hieron said of Weedman (19-6-1), who beat Dan Hornbuckle in a quarterfinal upset and gave Hieron all he could handle in the underdog role. “He’s a tough guy. That’s what I want, I want tough fights like that. I feel I’m the best in the world, and those are the fights I need to get there. I’m coming, baby. The Thorobred is coming, galloping.”
From the sound of it, Askren might be rooting for Hieron against Hawn.
“I watched Jay Hieron tonight and I wasn’t impressed,” Askren said. “I’m in his dressing room so who knows, he might come try and get me. But he ain’t got nothing for me. I like to think (I have the answer for anybody). But let’s go and do it.”
Askren’s college teammate at Missouri, Michael Chandler, scored a similarly styled victory to advance to the finals of the lightweight tournament. Chandler (7-0), although not as dominant, kept Lloyd Woodward on the defensive and on his back long enough to win two rounds and take the victory.
“Lloyd’s the man,” Chandler said. “He was game. The toughest dude I have ever fought, might be one of the toughest dudes I’ll ever fight.”
Woodard entered the battle of unbeatens at 11-0.
Chandler will face the impressive Patrick “Pitbull” Freire in the lightweight tournament finals, with a Season 4 tournament check and a date with lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez on the line.
“Gimme him,” Chandler said. “Two-thirds of the way to the gold. The goal is to win this Bellator tournament and get that title shot. Patricky, he’s flashy, he knocks people out. I can’t wait. Let’s go.”
Elsewhere on the card, the main portion of which was televised by MTV2, Eric Prindle defeated Josh Burns via doctor’s stoppage due to swelling from a cut over the left eye after two rounds in a heavyweight bout. That match made the broadcast.
On the undercard, Tyler Stinson earned a split decision over Nate James, David Rickles finished Dylan Smith 3:32 into the fight with a triangle choke, and Michael Osborn pounded out Cody Carrillo in 87 seconds.