“Fun Size” Zach Makovsky is currently on the shelf rehabbing a leg injury that forced him to withdraw from his scheduled ACB 79 bout with Kurban Gadzhiev less than two months ago. The former UFC flyweight star recently caught up with Tony Reid of MyMMANews.com to discuss his proud Pennsylvanian heritage.
Tony Reid – I’m a Pennsylvania native and I can’t help but notice and recognize your ties to the state. You were raised in Bethlehem, you attended Drexel University and walked on the wrestling team there. You are listed as fighting out of Philadelphia. Can you talk about representing Pennsylvania?
Zach Makovsky – “Yeah, it’s where I’m from. It’s my home. It’s where it all started for me. I still live in Philadelphia to this day. I am surrounded by a great group of people here and I couldn’t be happier in PA.”
Tony Reid – You grew up in PA, you still live and train here but many high level mixed martial artists from the state left for greener pastures and bigger opportunities in other states. Unfortunately Pennsylvania is not exactly an MMA hotbed at the moment. How have you made it work here in the Keystone State?
Zach Makovsky – “I’m from Bethlehem and I wrestled in high school there. That is kind of a hotbed for wrestling. Then I went to Drexel University. The Philadelphia Fight Factory is really where the vast majority of my MMA related training has taken place. When they closed I moved to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in the area. I still get to work out at Drexel with the wrestling team on a regular basis. I still get a lot of my training in Philadelphia. I do go to New York once a week. Also, I just got back from training at the Tri Star Gym in Montreal.”
Tony Reid – Speaking of your history in the City of Brotherly Love can you tell us about your chance encounter with Eddie Alvarez and how that led to your career in mixed martial arts?
Zach Makovsky – “I started training in no gi Jiu Jitsu while I was still in college. I would be in wrestling season for six months or so every year and in the off season I would go down to this little mixed martial arts gym called The Philadelphia Fight Factory once or twice a week. While I was there Eddie Alvarez came in. He then started training there full time. We became friends quickly. I would go back to wrestling and when I came back I could see how much he improved. After college wrestling was over I would come back and his improvement was drastic each season. He had a bunch of fights before I ever competed in MMA. I always looked up to Eddie. He was instrumental in showing me the right mentality and through his experience how to train properly for the sport. He has been a good friend of mine and a huge influence on my career. We still talk regularly.”
Tony Reid – The ultimate goal for a flyweight in any organization is to get a crack at the UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. What are your thoughts on DJ and how he has dominated the division?
Zach Makovsky – “Demetrious is just incredible. He looks better every time he fights. I think he is one of the most complete fighters in all of MMA. His standup is great. His wrestling is great. His Jiu Jitsu and his submissions are outstanding. He can do everything everywhere. He fights at the highest pace of anyone involved in the sport. It’s no easy task trying to take him on. I match up with him pretty well though. I present some unique challenges. I think his natural aggression would play into my natural counter fighting style. I think I am the best grappler he will have faced to this point. I think I have a very technical approach, I know he does as well. I think all of that would make for a great matchup.”
Tony Reid – We have talked a lot about Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. I saw your tweet in which you are standing with a baseball bat in your hand, in your lefty batting stance ready to take a cut. Is there any interest in becoming the next Ryan Howard someday for the Phillies?
Zach Makovsky – (Laughs) “That would be something! I used to play baseball when I was younger. I was a center fielder and lead off batter. I led the team in walks every year because I had no strike zone. Actually, before I started fighting I worked as a strength and conditioning coach and I trained a few guys in the Phillies organization when they were in high school. It’s still crazy when I run into some of those guys today.”
Tony Reid – If you could choose one fight from your career that every MMA fan should see which fight would you have them watch and why?
Zach Makovsky – “Its hard to pick just one. One of my favorite performances was my title fight in RFA versus Matt Manzanares at RFA 11 right before I signed with the UFC but my absolute favorite fight is probably my UFC debut against Scott Jorgensen. It wasn’t the most technically perfect fight but considering the opposition, the stage and the short notice factor it was definitely an exciting fight. It took a lot of different aspects of mixed martial arts to pull that fight off. There was a lot of wrestling, a lot of Jiu Jitsu scrambles, it was a very well balanced fight for sure.”