John Makdessi and Renee Forte will close out the Facebook preliminary portion of the UFC 165 fight card that airs live on pay per view this Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Makdessi (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is on the hunt for three straight victories inside the octagon after winning back to back before forced to pull out of his UFC 163 bout against Edson Barboza due to an injury. Forte (8-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC), who is part of the TUF Brazil alumni, is also looking to continue on in the winning column after his upset victory over English UFC veteran Terry Etim.
While this fight isn’t as black and white as a typical striker versus grappler match up, the description certainly outlines the strengths of the two fighters. Makdessi, who trains out of Tristar, is primarily a striker who has found success using his angles, keeping his distance, and picking apart his opponents from the outside while surprising his opponents by mixing in spinning techniques. In his fights with Sam Stout and Daron Cruickshank we saw him establish a perfect jab, often times doubling and even tripling up on the jab – something that will be very effective against Forte who likes to throw power punches without setting them up. Makdessi almost always throws his punches in combinations and when he isn’t throwing punches he’s actively kicking the legs and body of his opponent as we saw against Cruickshank.
While Makdessi certainly has the advantage in striking, there are holes in his game that Forte could look to exploit. With his wide karate stance, Makdessi is very susceptible to low kicks. He often doesn’t even check them as we saw not only in his loss to Anthony Njokuani, but in the first round of his victory over Cruickshank. He is also a rather slow starter, taking almost an entire round to establish his range and jab in his last fight, though once he finds his range he is sure to turn up the pace.
Forte, on the other hand, comes aggressive right out of the gate and always looks to push the pace. He likes to throw a very powerful overhand right though rarely sets it up with a jab or any other sort of combination and while we’ve never seen Makdessi knocked out in his mixed martial arts career, if Forte lands it could certainly change the course of the fight. Striking isn’t Forte’s specialty though – Forte made his career off of dictating the pace of the fight and where it takes place. The Brazilian has the ability to force his opponent’s to fight against the cage and off their back and he will look to use the threat of his overhand right to set up take downs and initiate the clinch, much like in his unanimous decision victory over Etim.
If Forte can keep up with the footwork and lateral movement of Makdessi while setting up takedowns and clinches with the threat of his overhand, he should able to close the distance and take the range away from him and put him in a position he isn’t comfortable fighting in.
Prediction: John Makdessi def. Renee Forte via unanimous decision.
While Forte is able to press forward and smother his opponents, the footwork of Makdessi will prevent Forte from getting close enough to take him down and control his movement. Makdessi will do a great job striking from the fringe with his jab as well as carefully throwing low kicks when he doesn’t feel threatened by a take down. Because Makdessi doesn’t want to risk losing position, he won’t throw the spinning back fist that he used to knock out Kyle Watson nor will he commit much to his combinations unless he feels Forte is out of gas or injured. This calls for a unanimous decision victory, possibly a 29-28 depending on if he takes long in the first to find his range.