Canadian welterweight Malott looks to make most of UFC 297 showcase
TORONTO — It seems only fitting that Canadian welterweight (Proper) Mike Malott helps set the table for the two title fights that wrap up Saturday's UFC 297 fight card in Toronto
Malott (10-1-1) is battling his way to the front of the line, or at least close to it.
His 10 victories are all finishes, he is unbeaten in seven fights (6-0-1) and has won all three of his UFC outings since earning his contract in October 2021 with a 39-second submission win over Israel's Shimon Smotritsky on Dana White's Contender Series.
And the 32-year-old from Fonthill, Ont., has had his arm raised lickety-split in the UFC, needing a total of just 14 minutes two seconds to finish Mickey Gall, fellow Canadian Yohan (White Lion) Lainesse and Adam Fugitt via guillotine choke, arm triangle choke and TKO, respectively.
"I'm exactly where I want to be right now. I think I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," said Malott. "I'm fighting on the main card of a pay-per-view, in my home (region) … I'm the fight before the co-main event. I'm undefeated in the UFC with all stoppages. I've taken next to no damage and I'm fighting for a ranked spot."
"I think I'm on a great trajectory right now," he added,
Standing in the way of Malott and the rankings is 13th-ranked welterweight Neil (The Haitian Sensation) Magny (28-11-0).
The 36-year-old Magny has long been a UFC fixture, compiling a 21-10-0 record in the promotion. Consider the fact that he surpassed Malott's 14:02 career time in the Octagon in his UFC debut bout in 2013. And that Magny posted five wins in 2014 that totalled 65 minutes 12 seconds in cage time.
While Magny has lost three of his last five fights, albeit to elite opposition in No. 3 Shavkat Rakhmonov, No. 4 Gilbert Burns and No. 10 Ian Garry, he holds wins over (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler, Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit and Johnny (Bigg Rigg) Hendricks, all of whom held the UFC welterweight title at some point.
"I'm not putting too much thought into what he does," said Malott. "We've studied him. And I'm aware of what I need to look out for offensively from him and I'm aware of what I can take advantage of, as far as holes in his game."
"It doesn't change much for me, as far as I'm concerned," he added. "It's another body in the cage. It's another guy I'm going to finish before the 15 minutes are up."
Magny, a Brooklyn native who now fights out of Denver, was dominated by Garry last time out in August at UFC 292 with the unbeaten Irish fighter punishing him with low leg kicks. Garry won a lopsided 30-26, 30-26, 30-24 decision after landing 91 significant strikes to Magny's 27.
At six foot one, Malott is giving up two inches in height and seven in reach to Magny. But he is unfazed, noting he only absorbed 23 strikes in total over his last four fights despite being at a reach disadvantage in all of them.
Malott's submission win over Fugitt last time out in June completed a 6-0 sweep for Canadians at UFC 289 in Vancouver.
Malott has been involved in martial arts for close to 20 years.
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). He now fights at welterweight (170).
Malott took a break from fighting from February 2017 to December 2020, when he defeated Solomon (The Black Dragon) Renfro in the Cage Fury Fighting Championship promotion. That was his fight before the Dana White Contender Series bout.
Malott said he took the time off to re-evaluate things after losing his "passion for fighting."
He turned to jiu-jitsu instead. At the same time, Team Alpha Male boss Urijah (The California Kid) Faber offered him the role of striking coach at his gym in Sacramento.
Malott went on to corner fighters Cody (No Love) Garbrandt, Andre (Touchy) Fili, Darren (The Damage) Elkins and Faber, among others, in the UFC before returning to his own fight career.
Younger brother Jeff is a winger in the Winnipeg Jets organization. The bigger of the brothers at six foot three and 204 pounds, the 27-year-old made his NHL regular-season debut in March 2020 in a 6-4 win at Chicago.
Jeff, who attended Cornell, had eight goals, 13 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 31 games for the AHL Manitoba Moose this season.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2024.