Title fight for Westcott
St. Albert MMA fighter on the main event card in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Nations finale
Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 06:00 am
Sheldon Westcott enters the octagon on Wednesday in the biggest fight of his mixed martial arts career.
The St. Albert middleweight will go toe-to-toe against Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou of Mississauga, Ont. in Quebec City as part of the main event card on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Nations: Canada vs. Australia reality television series finale.
A six-figure contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship is on the line for the Canadian combatants.
Westcott, 29, is ready to embrace the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I like having pressure and I do very well in those pressure situations. I put a lot of pressure on myself and I enjoy being in a tough situation where your fight matters. I honestly thrive when it’s the most important fight rather than just a fight that you should win,” Westcott told the Gazette Thursday.
The TUF Nations finale starts at 5 p.m. on Sportsnet 360.
A large contingent of fans will have Westcott’s back at the fight.
“My support from my community and my family is amazing and definitely they are going to be making the trek out to Quebec with me,” said the Paul Kane High School alumnus.
Westcott is 9-1-1 and Theodorou is 8-0.
“He won both of his fights by decisions,” Westcott said of the TUF Nations fighter and noted kick boxer. “He is well rounded. He is a strong guy. He is big. It’s going to be a really good test of my skill and ability and his skill and ability.”
Westcott is a welterweight (170 pounds) who moved up a class to middleweight (185 pounds) for TUF Nations, which matched Canadians against Australians in an elimination format.
In the televised TUF Nations semifinal Wednesday, Westcott needed only 41 seconds in the first round to force Australia’s Vik Grujic into a frantic tap with a Von Flue choke from a half guard.
The move was named after Jason Von Flue, but he did it in side control in 2006.
It’s the first time it’s ever been done from half guard in the UFC and only the third Von Flu choke in UFC history.
“There is a lot of people in the sport who haven’t seen it before and I ended up doing it in the fight,” Westcott said. “I did it before I went and fought and our jiu-jitsu coach had never seen it before. I did it to him in the warm-up and he went, ‘Boy that’s a new one. I never saw that before.’”
The fight started with Grujic scrambling to avoid several takedown attempts while trading shots with Westcott in the clinch. Westcott eventually picked Grujic up and slammed him down to the floor. As Grujic held on to a guillotine choke, Westcott trapped his opponent’s arm and locked him in a modified Von Flue choke from half guard and it was a done deal.
Grujic was considered the favourite entering the bout after making quick work of Luke Harris of St. Albert in the quarter-finals.
Westcott battled through knee and neck injuries during the filming of TUF Nations and in the first round defeated four-time Aussie judo Olympian Daniel Kelly via submission with an arm-triangle choke 55 seconds into the first round.
“I’m 100 per cent healthy now. I feel great. I had a great training camp,” Westcott said.
What was tougher than the fights for Westcott was keeping the results a secret from family and friends. A confidentiality agreement signed by the four middleweights and four welterweights from Canada and Australia with the UFC prohibited them from talking about the outcomes before the fights were aired.
Westcott watched both of his fights with supporters at a St. Albert bar.
“It was awful in all honestly but I’m glad I didn’t tell anybody. Everyone got to find out at the same time what happened and everyone got the actual experience of it,” said the co-owner of the Complete Fitness and Martial Arts gym in Campbell Business Park.
The Canadians and Aussies were sequestered in a log cabin in the Montreal area, about a 30-minute drive from the gym, from late October until mid-December and were cut off from the outside world during 49 days of filming.
It’s the fifth series produced by the UFC outside the United States and the first filmed in Canada. The show debuted on Jan. 15.
“It was a crazy experience on a show with injuries and that kind of stuff but I ended up getting the result I really wanted and competing at the highest level in my sport,” Westcott said.