In the opening bout of UFC 170's FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" tonight (Sat., Feb. 22, 2014), two excellent Flyweight standouts, Zach Makovsky and Josh Sampo, will look to put their stamps on the 125-pound division. Both men are fleet-footed, possessing interesting mixed martial arts (MMA) skill sets, which will likely result in a high-paced, technical brawl between the pair at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Makovsky -- perhaps known best for once being Bellator's Bantamweight champion -- has been in the fight game for more than seven years. He has shown a great set of skills in his time int he sport, compiling an impressive record (17-4), utilizing his great grappling skills and athleticism to outdo his opposition, most recently Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9.
Sampo -- a strong grappler in his own right -- is coming off an impressive submission victory over Ryan Benoit at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 Finale. Sampo, like Makovsky, is known for his skills on the mat, but his focus tends to be more finish-friendly, compiling six submission wins in 11 victories. He isn't the most agile Flyweight, but he makes up for it with unique physical strength that is not characteristic in this division and he uses it expertly when combining it with his dynamic grappling game.
These two fighters pose an interesting challenge for each other. Where Makovsky is a fireplug of sorts -- coming at opponents from all angles with great agility -- Sampo is a rigid, powerful fighter who is more than capable of giving Makovsky a challenge in bringing the fight to the mat.
In the striking department, Sampo is very conventional, but his defense is porous -- especially when opponents counter his punches. Makovsky uses his speed to his advantage in the striking game, but much like Sampo, he is susceptible to taking big punches when countered, which could make for interesting exchanges. I give Makovsky a slight edge in the striking department, but this fight likely won't be decided on the feet.
Expect Makovsky to be the aggressor on most occasions. He is light on his feet and good at looking for offensive opportunities, while Sampo will have to be on his toes if he doesn't want to be brought to the mat. Both men are good on the mat, and at flyweight the grappling exchanges can be very quick and exciting, which is what combat sports fans should expect to see. Makovsky's positional prowess coming up against Sampo's physical power and offensive Brazilian jiu-jitsu game will make for a solid battle between two very good grapplers.
When these two meet to open the UFC 170 FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" under card, be ready to see two highly skilled grapplers go to work in what should be a back-and-forth affair. Makovsky and Sampo are similar in some ways; therefore, don't be surprised to see them get the better of each other at some points in the fight.
Both men could get a big bump up the still-developing Flyweight rankings with a win, so expect them to go all-out in a potential "Fight of the Night"-worthy performance.