Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight talents Mike Malott and Adam Fugitt will go to war this weekend (Sat., June 10, 2023) at UFC 289 inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Back in 2017, Malott stepped away from active competition, instead focusing on coaching and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The bug to compete bit him once again in 2020, and since then, he’s been flawless. “Proper” has won four straight fights since then, finishing each in the first-round to establish himself as one of Canada’s top prospects. Fugitt, meanwhile, is a rare signee direct from the regional scene, rather than Contenders Series. He’s split his pair of previous UFC fights, most recently scoring his first Octagon victory by stopping Yusaku Kinoshita with strikes in the very first round.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Mickey Gall (UFC 273), Yohan Lainesse (UFC Vegas 70), Shimon Smotritsky (Contenders Series 2021)
Key Losses: Hakeem Dawodu (WSOF 14)
Keys to Victory: Malott is a finisher. He’s stopped all nine of his wins inside the distance, and those stoppages show his development. Early on, Malott was winning largely via knockout, but recent years have seen the jiu-jitsu black belt finishing via strangle more often.
In this bout, Malott should be looking to counter wrestle. Fugitt has some pop in his hands, but he’s a wrestler first and foremost. If he’s forced to strike with Malott in extended exchanges or reversed to his back, he’s going to have a really bad time.
Keeping some distance would seem to benefit Malott. He’s a powerful kicker, and Malott showed off his sharp counter punching against Gall. Seeing as Fugitt’s chin tends to raise as he charges forward, range kickboxing sounds like a good place to be for the Canadian.
If and when Fugitt shoots, Malott should be looking to counter. His jiu-jitsu is dangerous, and years at Team Alpha Male should have him pretty accustomed to fending off double legs and finding his own opportunities in the chaos.
Key Wins: Yusaku Kinoshita (UFC Vegas 68), Solomon Renfro (LFA 125)
Key Losses: Michael Morales (UFC 277)
Keys to Victory: Fugitt is an aggressive finisher himself. His kickboxing has a bit less polish, but there’s plenty of power in the Oregon native’s hands. Wrestling remains his best asset, and if able to gain top position, he can do real damage.
Between the two fighters, Malott is the more refined and technical athlete. However, it’s an MMA fight! Making it ugly is always a viable option, and in Fugitt’s case, it’s likely his best path to victory.
Fugitt has to pressure here. Ideally, he’ll keep his chin down as he does so, and some extra head movement and feints wouldn’t hurt either. Regardless, Fugitt needs to be moving forward and hitting the body only as long as is necessary to set up his takedowns along the fence.
If Fugitt can get the wrestling going, he has a real chance. He’s nasty from top position, and Malott has yet to be pushed past the first round since returning from retirement and moving up to Welterweight.
This one was booked for the benefit of the Canadian crowd.
Truthfully, Canadian MMA hasn’t been doing so hot inside the Octagon. It’s been a long while since Georges St. Pierre ruled the 170-pound division, and Rory MacDonald stood out as his heir-apparent. Malott is the most promising Canadian to pop up in quite some time, so it’s fitting he’s being highlighted in UFC’s first return to “The Great White North” in years.
If he wins, his star grows considerably.
Conversely, Fugitt is the underdog here, but there’s opportunity as well. Upsetting Malott steals his shine, and Fugitt almost surely wouldn’t have been given this main card pay-per-view (PPV) slot otherwise. If victorious, Fugitt is suddenly on the Welterweight map moving forward.
At UFC 289, Mike Malott and Adam Fugitt will face off. Which Welterweight will remain standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 289 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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