UFC 158: St-Pierre Vs Diaz takes place this weekend, and for John Makdessi the training is all in his mind. The long hours at TriStar, the miles of road work, and the grueling strength and conditioning sessions are over; the last thing for Makdessi to do is focus on having his mind right when he steps into the Octagon against Daron Cruickshank.
Makdessi is clearly focused on the challenge in front of him, knowing what he needs to do and what to expect in the cage on Saturday night as he made clear in a recent conversation with Fighters.com.
“Cruickshank comes in to fight and he is an aggressive fighter with a wrestling background and a Tae Kwon Do style,” said Makdessi. “At this level, I don’t really focus on my opponent too much, I just focus on how I fight my fight. It doesn’t matter what he brings, if my mind is right physically and mentally it’s going to be an exciting fight.”
To Makdessi, all fights are a give and take situation, and how fighters react in those instances are what determines the better competitor, explaining, “To make it my fight, I need to just flow. I am a big believer in just letting your mind and body take over. Sometimes thinking too much slows you down in there, and I just need to go out there and let my body react to everything. Action/Reaction you know what I mean? We train everyday, repetition, to train our body and muscles to react to any scenario. Being prepared, being explosive, and being active are the keys.”
Makdessi improved his record his last time in the Octagon when was able to defeat Sam Stout by Unanimous Decision in front of his adopted hometown of Montreal.
“Fighting guys with a lot of experience has helped me a lot. Fans are always focused on the win or the loss. I have always been more focused on the performance. When you are winning or losing, you always have to take the negative and turn it into a positive,” revealed Makdessi. “Fighting a guy like Sam Stout is a mental win. Everyday I have to train hard and do the best, or else my imagination gets the better of me. You realize with the best athletes, it becomes a mental game. I have come to learn that its not the best athlete that wins, its the guy who trains the best who wins. Sam Stout is a dangerous fighter, and I was scared like hell. I was just happy that I was able to stay calm and let my body take over and react to what he was doing. He was pushing the pace and I was happy I was able to perform the way I wanted too.”
Staying calm and staying composed is something that all fighters have to deal with, and Makdessi tries to emulate legend Fedor Emelianenko in that regard.
“Getting your mind right is very important to me, and I try to focus on personal growth. To me self control is strength and calmness is power. I look up to guys like Fedor, and Fedor’s skin is like ice you know? There is no emotion,” Makdessi offered on his idol. “When I let my emotion get the best of me in the past, my mind is never clear. Thats the hardest part. It’s the attitude, and I learned that through fighting.”
When Makdessi gets into the cage on Saturday night, he will be able to draw on the experience of getting a win in front of the largest crowd in the North American history at UFC 129, and it should prove to be valuable considering how animated the audience should be on Saturday night.
“I was privileged to be a part of one of the biggest cards the UFC ever did in front of 55,000 people when I did the spinning back fist. I used to have amateur fights in underground basements in bars with like 200 people there,” Makdessi reflected. “The higher you go in the level in the sport everything becomes more mental not more physical. The mind will play games with you,” Makdessi concluded “My coach has always told me, ‘You have to be smart, you have to be clever, and not get hit. When you are able to do that you are a fighter.’”
UFC 158: St-Pierre Vs Diaz takes place March 16 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The main event features welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre taking on Nick Diaz to end the war of words once and for all. The PPV card will also feature welterweight fights between Carlos Condit-Johny Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger-Nate Marquardt.
PHOTO CREDIT: UFC