Lightweight Working on Mental Game to Rebound From First Losses

 – November 5, 2012

Until last December the MMA career of John “The Bull” Makdessi had gone pretty much according to plan, as not only had the decorated kickboxer gone undefeated since transitioning into the sport, but the lightweight had won his first two UFC bouts. After beginning his pro career in September, 2008, it had taken the Tristar fighter only a few years to become one of Canada’s top lightweights.

More recently, however, Makdessi has had to cope with defeat for the first time in his MMA career. In December, the 27 year-old was quickly submitted by Dennis Hallman, and then in April, he dropped a unanimous decision to fellow striking vet Anthony Njokuani. While Makdessi has demonstrated his ability to win pivotal fights in the past, now he will have to do so under a different set of circumstances. On November 17th, Makdessi will look to prevent a third consecutive when he takes on the seasoned vet, Sam Stout, at UFC 154.

“The biggest thing for me coming into this fight is actually my mental game,” said Makdessi. “I truly believe that I was mentally very tough but I guess it gets the best of all of us. After my losses it kind of got to me and I had to accept the fact that I lost. I have to move on you know? I’ve been working with a mental conditioning coach, Brian Cain.”

“He’s a well known sports psychologist,” Makdessi furthered. “He’s worked with Georges St. Pierre, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin and he’s been helping me alot train my mental game. For me, my biggest issue was my confidence, my confidence to wrestle and grapple. I would always rely on my stand-up.”

When Stout appeared on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, the noted striker was quick to credit Makdessi for his stand-up abilities, but added he believes he has a decisive advantage over his opponent in the grappling department.

“At the end of the day, I wrestle hard, I grapple hard, and I do everything,” Makdessi told Full Contact Fighter, while discussing Stout’s comments. “I tell myself, there’s no difference between sparring and the real fight. I would always make it bigger than what it was. At the end of the day if I can take down Mark Bocek or Georges St. Pierre when we’re in sparring, I can take down Sam Stout.”

While both Stout and Makdessi have worked hard to improve their wrestling and ground games, their striking skills have been behind much of their successes and memorable wins.

“I believe in my skills and I believe in my coaches,” said Makdessi, when asked to assess the stand-up abilities of Stout, who for years studied under the renowned striking coach Shawn Tompkins, until his untimely passing last year. “At the end of the day you have to fight tough guys, and everyone has their own thing. He’s a great striker and I’m also a great striker, and that’s why I think it’s going to be a great fight. I hope to God he brings his A game because I’ve been training very hard for him.”

Although the bout will take place in Makdessi’s own backyard of Montreal, not only is Stout one of Canada’s more recognizable fighters, but he spent years competing in the city for the now defunct, TKO organization.

“He fought a lot of guys I spar with in training,” Makdessi noted about Stout, who lives in London, Ontario. “My kickboxing background, our biggest rivalry was always the Ontario guys. I’ve been training very hard since the summer. I wanted to get back in action…To fight a guy like Sam Stout, with a name like that, is a big honor for me. I accepted the fight right away with no hesitation.”