Sheldon Westcott rings in the New Year tonight at UFC 195 in Las Vegas.
The St. Albert mixed martial arts fighter and Edgar Garcia of Mexico will exchange pleasantries on the undercard of the pay-per-view event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The welterweights were scheduled to trade leather Dec. 10 at UFC Fight Night 80 but the bout was added to the Fight Pass Prelims at UFC 195.
Westcott is ready to rumble.
“When I started fighting I wanted to fight in the UFC so every single time I get a call to fight I go, ‘Man, I’m living my dream right now.’ It took seven, eight years of hard work and dedication and now I’m here,” said the Paul Kane High School alumnus. “It’s like a hockey player. You don’t sit there when you start playing hockey and not dream of playing in the NHL so every time I get the call to fight it’s just one of those things where I have no problem getting up and going into training camp for it because this is what I wanted.”
Westcott is 9-3-1 and Garcia is 14-4. Both fighters are 31-years-old.
“The question I get asked the most is, ‘Is this guy good?’ There is 70, 80 guys in my weight division in the UFC, so they’re the best fighters in the world at one hundred and seventy pounds, so of course he’s good,” Westcott said.
Garcia was a high school wrestler in Yuma, Arizona, and a state champion.
“He is also a big puncher and a great fighter so the days of some guys coming in and only being good at one thing and not being well rounded are long since gone,” said Westcott, who has a slight edge in height and leg reach over Garcia. “He has a good left hook. He has a really nice straight right hand and a good single leg takedown. He’s just good all over. If I don’t stick to my Ps and Qs and if I make a mistake, that’s where his openings will come. So as long as I stay focused, which I’ve been extremely focused throughout my entire training camp, I should be perfect.”
Both fighters are coming off losses. Westcott suffered a unanimous decision against Pawel Pawlak at a UFC Fight Night event last April in Krakow, Poland, and Garcia was defeated by Hector Urbina by submission (guillotine choke) at UFC 180 in November of 2014 in Mexico City.
“If I would’ve made some adjustments I definitely could’ve won the fight. It was just a bad performance honestly from me. There is no sugar coating it and if you’re not honest with yourself you’ll never grow. I fought terribly,” Westcott said of the loss that was scored 29-28 for Pawlak (11-2) by all three judges. “At the same time too it was the best fight experience I’ve ever had but I also didn’t compete well in the fight, which made the whole experience kind of worse but I did take a couple of things away from it.
“I fought a Polish guy and I expected to get booed and yelled out and screamed at going in there and for my mental preparation that’s what I assumed but on my way out they were giving me high fives. When I left I lifted my head up after I was walking around the cage and I was getting a standing ovation. They gave every single fighter a standing ovation. The fans there were absolutely unbelievable and the city was unbelievable.”
Westcott was counting down the days leading up to tonight’s dustup before the Dec. 21 interview with the Gazette.
“I could’ve been fight ready a couple of days ago so I’m ready. Right now it’s ironing out details and finish off game planning and just get a little bit more preparation in,” said Westcott, who was fine-tuning his skills at Jackson’s MMA fight camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “The big thing is getting away from my mom’s cooking over the holidays. It was a must so this year missing Christmas and New Years is perfect being out here because her cooking is as far away from me as possible so making weight won’t be an issue.
“But you know what? I love food. I’m not one of those people who between fights doesn’t enjoy the finer things, like pizza and all that kind of stuff. I’m always eating but when it comes down to training camp I’m as professional as they will come. I’m not one of those people who cheat on their diet all the time. It’s been eight years doing this so there is no point messing it up and making my weight cut harder now when it’s important.”
Westcott ramped up training at Jackson’s MMA fight camp and also did a stint in Australia.
“I do the majority of my training out of Complete Fitness and Martial Arts, it’s a school that I co-own with Mitch Clarke and Guy Lefebvre in St. Albert, but I decided I wanted something different and just kind of escape and get some different looks and I came out here for three weeks about six, seven weeks ago. I blended well with the team and I got really good rounds in. It’s been unbelievable and I’ve had such a really good experience here,” said The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia middleweight finalist in 2014. “After I left here I went to Australia to help Richard Walsh and Brendan O’Reilly get ready for the UFC 193 card and then I was back home in St. Albert for three, four weeks for my training camp and then I’m out here for the last 10 days just kind of touching up my training camp.”
Westcott is grateful for the support from the St. Albert community and gave a big shout-out to Global Cell Communications Inc for its backing.
“They’ve supported me since day one. If it means me coming out here they will help support me that way. They’ve been awesome.”