If Zach Makovsky knows what to expect from UFC 170 opponent Joshua Sampo, it’s because he knows himself.
“I think Josh is maybe the most similar opponent I’ve faced,” Makovsky told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “He’s a Division II All-American wrestler. He’s got good jiu-jitsu, good striking and he’s very well balanced. I think we both kind of favor grappling, and like I said, we both come from that collegiate wrestling background. We were both biology majors, both coached wrestling. I think we’re very similar in a lot of ways.”
Makovsky will enter the Feb. 22 flyweight contest a winner of three straight. A former Bellator bantamweight champion, he hasn’t lost since dropping to 125 pounds.
“The last couple of guys I fought at 135 were just significantly bigger than me,” Makovsky said. “Really, 125 wasn’t an available weight class for me in Bellator at that time. It’s starting to get more and more publicity. I’ll take advantage of every opportunity I can, and if that means moving down to keep up with the evolving sport, then that’s what I’ve got to do. I feel like right now it’s definitely where the people my size are competing at, so it’s where I belong.”
Most recently, Makovsky won a unanimous decision over Scott Jorgensen in his UFC debut. In Sampo, he’ll be facing another fighter with a strong wrestling resume. The 29-year-old was a three-time All-American at Lindenwood University and holds an 11-2 record in MMA.
“I personally think I utilize my wrestling skills better in mixed martial arts, but it’s always hard to say until you actually get in there in front of each other and see what happens,” Makovsky said. “It’s about being smart and seeing who can kind of outwit the other guy. We’ll see.”
Makovsky is expecting much more than a wrestling match with Sampo. In fact, against an opponent so much like himself, he’s looking forward to a competitive match in all aspects of the game.
“I think this is going to be a full mixed martial arts fight,” Makovsky said. “I think you’re going to see bits of everything. The only real difference between us, I think, is that standup-wise, he’s more of a pressure fighter. He likes to walk forward, walk his opponents down, and I like to use movement in and out, angles, stuff like that. We’ll see, but as far as grappling, I think we’re very close skill-wise. Probably whoever can end up on top is going to have the advantage. I think it’s going to be up and down -- standup, wrestling, jiu-jitsu. It’s going to be a full gamut of mixed martial arts skills.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:09:54).