Bellator Fighting Championships, since its first show, has taken a back seat to the UFC in terms of buzz and the size of its audience. While the promotion doesn’t attract the high volume of people the UFC consistently does, the promotion rarely fails on delivering a quality product.
Uniquely, Bellator has made its fight league tournament based, and each tournament winner fights the reigning champion. It is the epitome of working your way to deserving your title shot. It seems as if in every show Bellator promotes something noteworthy and highlight reels abound.
Each show is a must see event if you are a fan of lesser known fighters who put everything on the line.
Bellator 54, which took place earlier this month on October 15, was no different. Bantamweight Champion Zach Makovsky would take on Ryan Roberts in what promised to be an exciting showdown. The bout was a non-title fight for Makovsky while he awaited the conclusion of the 135-pound tournament currently underway.
Instead of just getting through the fight while waiting to defend his title, Makovsky finished it ... brilliantly.
Let's break down how he did it.
Holding a record of 14 wins with only two losses, Zack Makovsky can definitely be considered an up-and-comer, a prospect looking to make a name for himself in a division that is gaining steam within Bellator and is an absolute shark tank outside of it.
Makovsky, a Division I wrestler, showcased his grappling from the opening bell, as he put himself in position to dominate when his opponent, Ryan Roberts, made a critical misjudgment.
Before we start, let me first give a thank you to Zombie Prophet for the .gifs. Check out his site (Ironforgesiron.com) -- he has .gifs and videos of fights up faster than anyone else on the 'net.
Roberts attempts to establish his pace immediately with a low kick. The kick is so non-committal and slow that Makovsky catches it with ease. He grabs the low-mid shin area and he circles with the leg. He doesn’t drive into the takedown, instead he uses that circling to take Roberts base away and his balance, or lack thereof, gets the fight to the mat.
One of the most important things to remember when facing wrestlers, especially ones of the Division I caliber, is that they are waiting to prey on your legs. Single legs and double legs are what wrestlers want to feast on in order to be in their comfort zone, which is on the ground on top of an opponent.
Roberts shouldn’t have strayed from using a low kick; he should have set it up and put much more commitment into the kick itself. It didn’t get any better for the former UFC fighter after that.
Wrestlers are hell on top of you; they have such a solid base that it suffocates you and is highly frustrating. Makovsky shows this as he smothers Roberts and keeps him from putting all effort into escaping with short strikes that are more annoying then powerful.
While in side control, Makovsky is looking to trap and isolate arms. Even though he isn’t doing much one wrong move from Roberts may leave an opening for the pass into mount or arm locks like a kimura or americana, which are both heavily utilized by wrestlers.
Roberts makes that pivotal mistake when he attempts to scramble and inadvertently puts himself into a north-south position. If Roberts would have exploded and got to his knees there is a much better chance he could have escaped back to his feet.
Instead, Makovsky is able to get his right arm around Roberts' neck and positions himself very heavy on the chest and head area. He reaches under and clasps the choking arm in a "Gable Grip." He flattens out his base, staying very heavy on top of the choke, and is able to secure the tap out.
The submission is called a "North-South Choke" and is a favorite amongst powerful wrestlers. Jeff Monson and Matt Hughes have used this front choke to finish opponents. Monson most notably, as it has become a favorite of his throughout his career.
The choke utilizes the bicep to cut off blood flow on one side of the neck. The hold takes slightly longer to finish then other chokes but with the right base it is very difficult to escape. As you can see above, Makovsky has the bicep tight and the rest of his weight on the opposite side of the neck which creates a crushing force on each side and on top of the head and neck area.
With the win, Makovsky continues his quest to become one of the best bantamweights in the world. He's slowly making his way into the spotlight and with finishes like this, it would be long before he's courted by the larger promotions.