Canadian welterweight Malott looking forward to first UFC fight on home soil
(Proper) Mike Malott is on a roll. And the Canadian welterweight isn't wasting time when it comes to getting the job done.
Malott (9-1-1) needed just 10 minutes 53 seconds to win his last five fights, including two in the UFC. The 31-year-old from Burlington, Ont., has had to go beyond the first round just once in his career — in a 2015 draw with France's Thomas Diagne in Bellator action.
"If it goes deep and goes long in the fight, I'm prepared for that," Malott said. "But I definitely don't mind quick stoppages."
Malott looks to add to that impressive record Saturday before a home crowd at UFC 289 when he takes on American Adam Fugitt (9-3-0).
"I think he's pretty solid," said Malott. "He's well-rounded. He brings some unique skill sets and tools to the fight, even just like his body type and his movements (being) a little bit awkward. He's technical but he kind of moves a little bit slinky and weird."
"But I also see him making mistakes throughout the fight," he added. "He gets desperate and he makes some kind of technical errors throughout fights. I see him over the 15-minute period making at least one mistake that I can capitalize upon. I have nine wins with nine first-round stoppages and one of the main reasons I think I have a record like that is because I'm one of the best guys in the UFC in capitalizing upon mistakes and forcing guys into positions where they are bound to make a mistake.
"Just being myself and fighting my own style will inevitably lead to a stoppage."
The six-foot-one Malott is a difficult opponent himself, able to switch between orthodox and southpaw stances with ease.
Saturday's main event at Rogers Arena sees Brazil's Amanda (Lioness) Nunes defend her bantamweight tile against No. 5 Irene Aldana of Mexico. It's the UFC's first show in Canada since a Fight Night card Sept. 14, 2019, at the same venue.
Malott, whose first two UFC bouts were in Jacksonville, Fla., and Las Vegas, asked to be on the Vancouver card.
"I've been dying to fight in the UFC since I got into mixed martial arts and I've been dying to represent Canada on the international stage since before I was planning on fighting in the UFC," he said. "Since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to represent Canada as an athlete or in some capacity. And I'm really proud that I get to do that."
Malott earned his UFC contract in October 2021 with a 39-second submission win over Israel's Shimon Smotritsky on "Dana White's Contender Series."
He knocked out Mickey Gall in three minutes 41 seconds at UFC 273 last July and submitted fellow Canadian Yohan (The White Lion) Lainesse after four minutes 15 seconds on a Fight Night card in February.
Malott pressed the fight on the feet then got Lainesse in a clinch and took him down, methodically controlling him on the ground until he locked in an arm-triangle choke that forced Lainesse to tap.
Fugitt is 1-1-0 in the UFC, stopping Japan's Yusaku Kinoshita in February in impressive fashion after losing his debut to undefeated Ecuador welterweight Mike Morales by third-round TKO in a fight he took on just nine days notice.
Fugitt outgrappled Kinoshitsa before finishing him with some nasty ground and pound at 4:36 of the first round. Against Morales, Fugitt acquitted himself well before he was discombobulated by a short right to the head.
The 34-year-old native of Eugene, Ore., made it to the UFC after a 43-second TKO win in the Legacy Fighting Alliance promotion over Solomon (The Black Dragon) Renfro, who was coming off a split-decision loss to Jonny (The Paradox) Parsons on "Dana White's Contender Series."
Malott also has a win over Renfro, in December 2020 in the Cage Fury Fighting Championship promotion.
Malott has spent time in Sacramento where he served as a striking coach with Team Alpha Male. But these days he trains at Niagara Top Team in St. Catharines, Ont. Gym co-owner Chris Prickett is a close friend — and former national wrestling champion.
Malott, who has been involved in martial arts for 18 years, also trains at House of Champions in Stoney Creek, Ouroboros Jiu-Jitsu in Hamilton and the Burlington Training Centre.
He originally found a local taekwondo gym in Waterdown, Ont., where he grew up, then transitioned to a Muay Thai gym in Stoney Creek before moving east to attend Dalhousie University, training at Titans MMA in Halifax.
He made his pro debut in April 2011 while at Dalhousie, starting as a featherweight (145 pounds) but now fights at welterweight (170).
"It can be a hard way to make a living at times and it can be stressful," he said. "But at the same time this is my hobby and this is my passion. When I take time off from preparing for fights, I'm still in the gym like most of my best friends … I'm constantly involved in the sport."
Malott, who is engaged, likes to relax away from the gym by spending time with his fiancée and family. Opponents aren't the only puzzles he likes to solve — he says escape rooms are his "go-to outside fighting."
And he's not the only athlete in the family.
Younger brother Jeff is a winger in the Winnipeg Jets organization. The 26-year-old Jeff, the bigger of the brothers at six foot three and 204 pounds, made his NHL regular-season debut March 20 in a 6-4 win at Chicago.
Jeff Malott, who attended Cornell, had 23 goals, 21 assists and 82 penalty minutes in 71 games for the AHL Manitoba Moose this season.
"He's a beast, man," said Mike Malott. "He did great this year."
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.