Flyweight Zach Makovsky is on a mission.

The 31-year-old had already held Bellator gold—as a bantamweight—but was eying another belt for his mantle when he took on Matt Manzanares at RFA 11 on Nov. 22 in Broomfield, Colo. The Philadelphia fighter scored a lopsided, unanimous decision win at the event to capture the promotion’s 125-pound title, but he’s not stopping there.

“I feel like I’m close to the UFC, and I feel like this was a very important fight to try and get there,” Makovsky proclaimed in an exclusive, post-fight interview with The MMA Corner. “I wanted to get a finish and make a bigger statement. I tried to submit him and I thought I had him with a couple chokes, but he’s real tough and wouldn’t tap.

“Overall, I did what I wanted to do. I controlled the fight pretty much everywhere against a talented fighter, and I hope that’s enough. Either way, it’s a step toward my goal.”

Zach Makovsky

Makovsky (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)

Although Makovsky was unable to finish the hard-nosed Manzanares, the fight marked the second time that the fighter had gone a full 25 minutes in the cage. It had been more than three years since Makovsky last saw the championship rounds, but this time it was at altitude.

“I actually watched my fight with Ed West before the fight, just to see myself go five rounds and reinforce that I could do it again,” explained Makovsky. “I was a little worried about the altitude, but I think I did everything I could to prepare. I went out to Greg Jackson’s out in Albuquerque to train not only at altitude, but with extremely talented guys like John Dodson, Ali Bagautinov, Nick Urso. All those guys helped me tremendously. Then I came out to Denver early and trained twice a day. I knew five rounds, if I needed to do it, I’d be good to go.”

The key to Makovsky’s success against Manzanares came in the form of multiple, single-leg takedowns. Those takedowns set up a deep arm-triangle choke in the first round and a triangle choke attempt in round two. Despite the success with his wrestling, Makovsky didn’t shy away from trading with the hard-hitting Manzanares.

“I can’t be afraid to go anywhere with anyone,” declared the newly crowned champion. “To be successful, you can’t be trying to force anything. Obviously, you want to be looking for opportunities to take advantage of what you want. I knew the trick would be timing his movement and getting into the leg. Once I got to the leg, I thought I would be able to get him down pretty quickly; I did.

“I think you get a little more comfortable with the distance and the speed as the fight goes along. The first round is always kind of tricky to gauge that speed. You’re not in the groove. Later in the fight, I knew he was getting more tired and wouldn’t be as explosive and have as much on his strikes. I was more willing to trade a little later in the fight.”

Although winning the belt was still very fresh on Makovsky’s mind, he wasn’t afraid to look ahead at what the future holds.

“I have a three-fight deal with these guys [with RFA], so that’s the next step,” he stated. “If the UFC calls, I’m allowed to leave the organization for that.

“I think I am amongst the best flyweights in the world. I think I deserve to be there. I hope the UFC takes notice, but if not, I’ll keep working until I get there.”

Zach would like to thank Will Martinez and his team in Philadelphia at Martinez BJJ, the Drexel wrestling team, everybody at Marcelo Garcia’s Academy in New York, everybody at The Wat at Phil Nurse’s Academy, everybody at Greg Jackson’s and Tristar Gym, as well as his sponsors: Fear the Fighter, Gamma Labs and Revgear. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachFunSize

Top Photo: Zach Makovsky (top) controls Matt Manzanares (Phil Lambert/The MMA Corner)