The best fight on the main card happens over an hour before the main event this February 6, 2016 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Match Up
Flyweight Joseph Benavidez 23-4 vs. Zach Makovsky 19-6
Flyweight Joseph Benavidez -470 vs. Zach Makovsky +375
3 Things You Should Know
1. Benavidez is officially the Dan Marino of Flyweight. Probably Bantamweight too.
When writers begin with tales about a fighter at the proverbial crossroads, it’s always in relation to the inability to move forward. Benavidez’ crossroads is much more metaphysical. Either he goes into the hyperbaric chamber, and discovers his inner Saiyan by accident, or he turns into a functional version of Frank Trigg.
Either way, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do other than slaughter everyone who doesn’t have a gold belt. I do think that he’s too good to just dismissively classify as “bridesmaid”. Part of it is, I suspect, the pressure on the big stage when the stakes are the highest. As awful as I feel for doing this, you have to assume at least a semblance of it might be true. That if you accept that there is such a thing as “clutch”, then you have to accept that some professional fighters are not clutch. And it’s possible Jo’s problems might concern more of the latter.
2. Fun Size lives up to his name. But he need a bit more Dull to stay competitive in such a strong division.
I don’t think many would have expected Makovsky to have such a unique impact in the UFC. It’s not that he wasn’t good in Bellator. It’s that he was very good, but seemed to have a style some might have thought was redundant. Obviously that turned out to be massively wrong. I thought the trick for Makovsky’s makeover was simply fighting more loose. Beforehand, he seemed to fight the way he thought a fighter with his well rounded skills was supposed to fight. Now he seems acutely aware of his fight identity. Question for this weekend is whether it will be enough.
3. Great fight. Clear winner. Business as usual for Benavidez, who will only have trouble if he’s careless on the ground.
This is easily Makovsky’s worst stylistic matchup. Much more than John Dodson even. Makovsky is a smooth operator on the ground, busting his wrestling chops over an opponent’s head. What I love about Makovsky’s style is how fluid he is. He transitions like a slinky, rarely breaking rhythm or momentum. This pristine element of his game makes him effective on offense, as well as defense.
He’s only a decent striker. His boxing is fundamentally fine, but nothing he can threaten with. His high left kick is quite fast, so it’s not completely useless either. However, he’s fighting someone who is everything he is ++. Makovsky is singing the cover of Nookie while Benavidez is reinventing the time signature with Tomahawk’s Mescale Rite 1.
That’s way too harsh to Makovsky I know. But for proof watch Makovsky’s loss to Anthony Leone.
It’s a completely competitive fight. At no point does Leone really even do anything to make this an emphatic win in his favor. But his strong, punctuated boxing and strength in the grappling department make cage life really difficult for Zach. Enough to convince the judges it’s all enough.
Leone is a poor man’s version of Benavidez, who has excellent switch stance boxing. He can shuffle up his offense with kicks, and blends his grappling with the kind of fierceness Makovsky will have trouble dealing with.
Benavidez is a tough fight for anyone, nevermind fighters who are lesser version of him. While such a description sells Makovsky short, it’s also the inconvenient truth for Makovsky, who is neither as fast or naturally strong as Jo. Zach has never been knocked out, but I think Jo gets him in this bout. Zach can’t hide his limitations in this one, which is generally when fighters get caught. Jospeh Benavidez by TKO, round 3.
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