Zach Makovsky had just won the vacant RFA flyweight championship on Nov. 22, 2013, when he got the call from the UFC offering a short-notice fight against veteran Scott Jorgenson at UFC on Fox 9 on Dec. 14. He accepted the fight and won via unanimous decision.
He wanted to take some time off after having two fights in a three-week span, but the UFC came calling again. Ten weeks after making his promotional debut on short notice, Makovsky faces Josh Sampo at UFC 170 on Saturday.
“I would have honestly preferred a little bit longer rest before this one, but it’s a big card in Vegas. I’ve always wanted to fight in Vegas. I got offered Josh Sampo, who is one of the guys I was looking to fight. I thought it would make a really good fight,” Makovsky told MMAWeekly.com. “I would have honestly liked a little bit more time, but it was also the right situation.”
Makovsky keeps an eye on the rankings and part of the reason why he wanted to face Sampo is because Sampo was ranked higher than him at the time.
“The original rankings that I saw, he was ranked ahead of me, so I wanted to keep climbing the ladder and working my way up. Either way, we’re ranked pretty close to each other, and I just think it’s a good fight,” said Makovsky. “He’s very similar to me in a lot of ways. He comes from a collegiate wrestling background, a Division II All-American, good jiu-jitsu, kind of favors grappling in most of his fights, but can stand and strike too. That’s pretty similar to me.”
After the win over Jorgensen in December, Makovsky moved into the top ten rankings. With the landscape of the 125-pound divison, a win over Sampo could quickly move the 31-year-old into contender status.
Champion Demetrious Johnson holds wins over top contender John Dodson, second ranked Joseph Benavidez, third ranked Ian McCall, and fourth ranked John Moraga. Sixth ranked John Lineker has failed to make weight in two of his last three fights. A win on Saturday would put Makovsky squarely in the mix.
“Everyone is looking at Demetrious. I think those top guys are kind of set in their places: Dodson, Benevidez and Johnson, of course. I think there’s a ton of talented guys in the top ten and outside of the top ten in the flyweight division. Outside of those top three, a lot of them don’t really stand out over anyone else. It’s kind of wide open, so I’m definitely keeping an eye on that,” he said.
“It was definitely a goal of mine to fight in the UFC, but I don’t want to be content with that. I want to do well here and make a run at the title,” added the Philadelphia resident.
Makovsky would have liked some time off before the fight with Sampo. Afterward, he expects to take a well-deserved break, unless opportunity knocks again.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to fight for a UFC title will be fantastic for me. If it’s the next fight after this one, if that’s the opportunity, I’m going to take it, of course,” he said.