Mike Malott grateful for ’emotional couple of days’ after UFC 273 debut: ‘I did not expect this kind of response’


Mike Malott’s UFC debut resonated in the MMA community more than he ever expected.

The veteran welterweight captured the sport’s attention when he scored a first-round knockout of Mickey Gall at UFC 273 then used his post-fight interview time to point fans toward the GoFundMe for Angie Rodriguez, the 15-year-old daughter of Team Alpha Male striking coach Joey Rodriguez who is battling Stage 3 lymphoma.

“It has been a very emotional few days,” Malott stated on The MMA Hour ,, “because a lot fans have reached out or a lot people have watched the interview and the fight have reached back to me with their stories.” It was like, “Hey man. That meant a lot because my mom’s been through this,” or, “I lost my brother, or my uncle.”

“It’s been almost as amazing to read these emotions. It’s been hard work, but I feel incredible that I was able make people feel heard or understood. This has made me feel almost as amazing as winning .”


Malott is a fellow coach and fighter alongside Rodriguez at Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male.

Following his win over Gall, Malott pledged to donate his entire $10,000 show purse to Angie Rodriguez’s cause — a gesture which ignited an immediate groundswell of momentum toward to the GoFundMe. UFC president Dana White also vowed in his post-fight media availability to cover the cost of Malott’s original $10,000 donation.

Approximately $54,000 in funds had been raised prior to UFC 273. Today, less than a week after Malott’s successful promotional debut, that number stands closer to $113,000.

” It immediately earned way more money than I expected,” Malott stated. “And I think it’s up like $60,000 or something like that, up a lot, so I did not expect this kind of response.

“We’ve just been texting a little bit [with Joey Rodriguez]. Malott said that he seemed to be grateful. He’s suffering a lot, and I don’t want to be a bother. It’s tough to be excited about this. You know what I mean? As much as it’s going to help, it’s still like, ‘OK, now we’re preparing for the biggest fight of his family’s life.’ You know? It’s not like, ‘Oh, OK, we’ve solved everything.’ But the people helping with the donations have really stacked the odds in that family’s favor, so I think he’s quite grateful for everybody’s donations.”

It was a magnanimous way to end an emotional weekend for Malott.

The 30-year-old welterweight’s road to the octagon has been a long one since his debut as a professional in 2011, and it hasn’t always been a smooth journey. Malott admitted Wednesday that there was a moment in his career in 2017 when he became burnt out by MMA and “lost drive.” The dream of being a UFC fighter he’d held onto for years no longer consumed him, and it was only by a stroke of luck that he wound up landing the coaching role at Team Alpha Male that ultimately kept him engaged with the fight game.

“I was singularly focused throughout [age] 13 to 26,” Mallot said. Mallot said, “Even in college I laughed about how I received my bachelor’s degree but my master’s in fighting. Nearly every day, I missed class to get to the gym. In the mornings, Gavin Tucker would have me spar in his box. Then, it was off to the mat to hit mitts and go for the bag. At night, I’d return to train with Gavin Tucker. I was not a good college student at all. I got through, but I was studying fighting while I was in college. And things changed. I had some injuries at the time that had been worrisome.

“I got to the point where fighting in the UFC didn’t excite me anymore. Because this is what it was, I felt like the next thing to try. Urijah [Faber] was my contact, and I said that I didn’t know whether I wanted to continue doing this. It’s unclear if it’s a break, or if my time is up. They replied, “Well, one the head coaches [of Team Alpha Male] has decided to leave. No one knows it yet. But he leaves in a month,’ after I think Cynthia Calvillo fought. After her fight, he was leaving. He was like “Well, that guy wants his fighters,” he said. You’re a great kickboxer and have a well-rounded game. If you want to just jump on as a coach, we’ve got you.’

“It just fell into my lap at the perfect time,” Malott continued. “And so I was able to stay heavily involved in MMA, spending all day at the gym either training jiu-jitsu and wrestling for myself or holding mitts for my guys or sparring with the guys, whatever — I was still heavily involved in fighting. And that time kind of gave me the opportunity for my MMA IQ to grow, for me to mature, for me to get more comfortable with with fighting and traveling and these big events, and see how things go on in the background.

“The time I spent coaching prepared me so much for this debut, in that, I had really already done that week 20 times. It was my debut, but I had already done that week probably 20 times, right? So it didn’t feel like some new thing where everything was overwhelming. I’m at these events saying hi to people I already know. It was clear what I could expect. I felt like a veteran in there even though it was my first [UFC fight], my debut.”

Malott certainly took advantage of the opportunity. After earning a UFC contract with a 39-second knockout on the UFC’s Contender Series, he blew through Gall in less than a round to announce his presence in the UFC welterweight division. Malott has won eight professional fights and all of them ended in stoppages. The Canadian newcomer could be a major player in the largest MMA promotion around.

So regardless of whatever comes next, Malott is ready.

“I did not expect a Mickey Gall right off the bat,” Malott said. I expected a Mickey Gall three fights into. I thought it’d be another Contender [Series] kid or an Ultimate Fighter veteran or something like that, right? A newer guy kind of like me. It was not what I expected from Mickey Gall. It’s like I don’t understand what they are looking for.

“This is ahead of where I thought I was going to be, so I don’t have an opponent picked out right now. I just have that dream of fighting in Canada and carrying the Canadian flag into the arena and getting another either big knockout or big submission.”