Much of the allure of Contender Series is bringing unknown prospects to light, but some of it is also due to the highlighting of some names that people already know.
Whether it be a husband, wife, sister, brother, or cousin of a popular fighter, a lot of these fighters are familiar in some way.
This week, we will see another name we have all heard from watching MMA: Mike Malott.
Malott is a coach at Team Alpha Male, the Urijah Faber-led gym home to a host of notable high-level MMA fighters. Whenever top bantamweight prospect Yadong Song fights, you hear Malott’s name a lot.
The Canadian 29-year-old has experience in Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing and has competed for submission grappling promotion Fight to Win Pro in the past.
A one-fight Bellator veteran, Malott also fought eventual UFC veteran Hakeem Dawodu under the WSOF banner in 2014. It’s hard to take a lot from that fight with Dawodu — Malott’s only loss — since Malott was 22 years old and a featherweight at the time.
What he did show, even at 22 was a wide array of skills. He opened in a karate stance a la Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and touched Dawodu on the feet.
A few minutes in, he took Dawodu down and got his back. Malott attempted to get a rear naked choke in, but Dawodu wiggled out and got back to the feet.
Eventually, Dawodu found his target and hit Malott with a barrage of punches and finished Malott with a standing knockout.
That was Malott’s last MMA setback, and it took place nearly seven years ago.
The Canadian’s last fight was a win in Cage Fury FC in December, when he choked out highly-touted prospect Solomon Renfro in the first round.
This will be his ninth fight in 10 years as a pro, a sparse schedule likely the result of his extensive coaching obligations.
Malott takes on 21-year-old Shimon Smotritsky (7-0) at the UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Tuesday night. He will do so in front of the Contender Series namesake, UFC President Dana White, and promotional matchmakers Mick Maynard and Sean Shelby in the hopes of punching his ticket to the UFC.