Zach Makovsky won the RFA Flyweight title on Nov. 23, 2013, and after being fortunate enough that the fight that took place prior to Thanksgiving, he enjoyed a full meal that most mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters usually aren't privy too because of obligatory weight cuts.
Just four days later, his good fortune would continue, receiving a phone call that he had been working toward his whole MMA career. He would be enter Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to fight Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9, which takes place tonight (Sat., Dec. 14, 2013) in Sacramento, Calif., on just ten days notice.
Makovsky was a guest this week on MMAmania's "Darce Side Radio" podcast this week and spoke about finally getting his big UFC shot and the hectic schedule that has followed.
"It's been crazy," Makovsky said.
"I got the call Tuesday night. Wednesday I was filling out paperwork all day, and trying to get back into the full swing of training immediately. I was training, but not like a fight was coming up. I was taking a week or two a little lighter after the fight," he continued. "Just tons of paperwork to do, medicals to do, driving all over the place to do all these different medicals that California needs. It's been crazy. Obviously, now photo shoots and interviews, trying to get to my weight and still work out ... it's crazy."
While Makovsky does have a good sense of humor, he only had a story from this past whirlwind of a week that was "not funny," and almost put his chances of fighting in jeopardy.
"The day I officially signed the papers with UFC, that night, I got the flu really bad and I was throwing up for like nine hours straight, which added to the chaos of this whole situation," Makovsky explained. "I was really worried because I was really sick and I think I got it from my lady friend, who was sick for like four or five days.
"So, I was nervous about how everything would work out and if I would be able to train at all leading up to the fight. I got over it really quick and I took one day off and have been training the rest of the time. It took me like two days to feel 100 percent, but I feel very good now. I couldn't believe it, it was the worse possible time. It was nerve wracking to say the least."
The former Bellator Bantamweight champion said that fighting so quickly after his last fight could be a "good thing" because of "the momentum of just being comfortable in the cage." He gave his first-ever Bellator tournament, where he won the title, as an example of the time in his career he felt the most at ease.
"The most comfortable I've ever been in a fight was -- just with the situation and as far as like dealing with pressure --was the fight with Ed West. I think it was because I fought three times, three weeks to the day, three times in six weeks. The consistency of it really just helped with the mental side of it."
Short notice fights can be either a blessing or a curse for fighters. It usually comes down to the individual, but coming from the tournament background in Bellator and having that experience from the grind of those fights being so close together -- and having to maintain weight throughout that time -- it is definitely a plus for UFC's newest Flyweight.
Jorgensen will be one of the toughest opponents Makovsky has ever had to face in his seven-year career, but it didn't matter who the opponent was going to be -- UFC was where he wanted to be, so he was going to seize the chance if it ever arrived.
"I've been looking for this opportunity for awhile and it's ultimately what I wanted, so I was definitely ready to jump on it any chance I got," he said. "Jorgensen is obviously very talented and super tough and is definitely going to pose a very, very tough fight. I'm ready. I feel like I came out of a five-round fight in high altitude and I know I am in great shape. Everything feels good. I just kind of have to adjust for the change of opponent."
The fighter known as "Fun Size" assessed Jorgensen's skill set and talked about what areas of the fight he feels are in his favor.
"I think he has a good lead hand and he definitely throws his right hand hard," Makovsky said. "When he tries to hurt you it's pretty much with his right hand. He uses his left to set it up pretty well. More boxing oriented. He doesn't kick as much as some other people. He's obviously a very strong wrestler. I think I have a speed advantage and a versatility advantage. I think I can do more, I just have to be really cautious of his strikes."
Makovsky's home base is at Martinez BJJ in Philadelphia, Pa., under Will Martinez, splitting his time between there and Marcelo Garcia's in New York City. At times, he has also cross-trained at Jackson's and the famed Tri-Star gym in Montreal. Most recently, Makovsky has been training under renowned Muay Thai instructor Phil Nurse at The Wat, which is also located in New York City.
In fact, Nurse cornered him in last fight and will be in the corner on Saturday night, too.
"I really like his style and just think his whole approach works with what I do, and he's added some things and instilled more confidence in me," Makovsky said. "I feel like I've honestly always had good striking skills. I've just kind of not been able to use them in competition as effectively as I would like. I think everything is coming along."
Jorgensen is the favorite this evening in Sacramento and deservedly so -- "Young Guns" has faced opponents like Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber and Renen Barao throughout his career, while this is Makovsky's first fight in UFC.
This maybe the two-time champion's first foray into the top MMA promotion on the planet, but he isn't green to tough competition, and has made constant improvements throughout his career. Since moving down to 125 he is 2-0. This is Jorgensen's first fight at flyweight, and Makovsky feels he can hang with him or anybody on the planet at 125 pounds.
"I think my skills are as good as any flyweight in the world, no matter what organization," Makovsky said with confidence. "I'm definitely confident in my abilities. That comes from, obviously, all my experience and twenty pro fights. Just training with people all over, I see their skills, and I know where I'm at; I'm confident."
With a victory over a name like Jorgensen on Saturday night at UFC on FOX 9, Makovsky will put himself on the map and make a lot of noise in the 125 pound division. While he is focused on the upcoming fight, he did admit to thinking about what the future possibilities may be.
"Of course, you definitely think about it," Makovsky revealed. "My goal was to make the UFC. I always wanted to fight in the UFC, but I don't want to just fight in the UFC and that's it. Now that I'm here I want to make a run and hopefully make a run at the title. I know that Jorgensen is a pretty high profile opponent, and he was going to fight Dodson who just fought for the title. I don't really control where I'm going to get ranked, I just have to deal with fighting him and let the rest play out. I definitely think about it."
Out of all the Bellator champions, from Eddie Alvarez-who almost joined the UFC, to Ben Askren-who the UFC didn't want, Makovsky made it there first. No one could've predicted that, yet here he is a day away from reaching one of the goals he had set out for himself: to fight in the Octagon with the best in the world.
His voice gave away the smile that he was definitely wearing, when he said, "Who would've thought."