It’s been almost nine months since Sheldon Westcott last fought in the UFC and the Alberta welterweight says it was time well spent.
After losing a unanimous 29-28 decision to Poland’s Pawel Pawlak on April 11 in Krakow, the 31-year-old from St. Albert refocused. He essentially took the first two months off afterwards, training just once a day.
Westcott needed time away from a frustrating loss that saw him unable to show off his skills. The Canadian spent much of the bout locked in a clinch at the fence, unable to take advantage. Pawlak hurt him with knees in the second round and outstruck him throughout.
"I never adjusted," said Westcott. "It was just one of those things where I needed to wrap my head around my A, B, C, D game plan. Sometimes taking a step back and looking at what you do wrong to help yourself get better is what you need to do and I guess I did that over the last six, eight months."
On Saturday, Westcott (9-3-1) returns to action on the UFC 195 undercard in Las Vegas when he meets Edgar Garcia (14-4-0).
Westcott, a finalist on "The Ultimate Nations" reality TV show, promises a far more aggressive showing.
"I was way too comfortable being in first and second gear when really I fight in third gear. That's who I am, that's the way I fight. Live by the sword, die by the sword," he said.
"I prefer a knockdown drag 'em out fight where everyone is going a million miles an hour," he added.
Despite losing a fight he acknowledges was "boring as hell," he left Poland with nothing but praise for the fans for their enthusiasm and knowledge of the sport.
Westcott and Garcia were originally slated to meet Dec. 10 on a televised Fight Night card in Las Vegas but the bout was pushed back to January when highly touted newcomer (Super) Sage Northcutt was added to the lineup.
Westcott prepared for Garcia in Albuquerque, N.M., with renowned trainer Greg Jackson. Kyle Noke, who coached the Australian team that opposed Westcott and the other Canadians on "The Ultimate Fighter," had originally invited him to train with him at Jackson's gym after the TV show.
Westcott eventually took him up on the offer with others at the gym preparing for December bouts and Noke also on Saturday's card.
He spent three weeks there before heading to Australia to help TUF Nations Aussie fighters Richard Walsh and Brendan O'Reilly prepare for their November bouts. While Down Under, Westcott lived with Walsh and trained with Dan Kelly whom he beat on the TV show.
Westcott finished off his camp at altitude in Albuquerque.
Other Jackson fighters on Saturday's card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena include welterweight Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit, who takes on welterweight champion (Ruthless) Robbie Lawler in the main event and former heavyweight title-holder Andre (Pit Bull) Arlovski, who faces Stipe Miocic in the co-main event.
"Training's been great. I've gotten awesome rounds," said Westcott, who sparred with the likes of Condit, Noke, Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone, Dominic Waters and Omari Akhmedov, among others.
"I can't ask for any better partners to help me get ready for this fight."
Westcott co-owns Complete Fitness & Martial Arts in St. Albert, where he teaches and trains.