When Cole Williams finally got his breakthrough to the UFC, he had mere days to prepare for his first fight.
The second time around, Williams has been forced to wait longer than expected.
That wait will come to an end on Halloween.
Williams, a Darien native and 2002 Delavan-Darien High graduate, has signed on to fight Jason Witt in a welterweight bout Oct. 31 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
“I’ve known about it a month or so, and (Monday) it went official to the public,” Williams said Tuesday. “It’s been tough (during the pandemic). All the gyms were shut down. … I was able to still do some stuff on my own, running and body weight type of stuff. But as far as getting sparring in, I couldn’t do any of that stuff.
“But I knew I’d have another offer come up at some point. So I wanted to keep working. And at least this time now I have notice and have my next fight lined up. That’s the biggest thing I’m excited for.”
Williams’ first foray into UFC was a mad scramble. He took a fight on short notice—with about a week to prepare and cut weight—and lost by a first-round rear naked choke hold to Claudio Silva on Aug. 3, 2019.
Williams was scheduled to return to the octagon April 11 against Phil Rowe. But like all other sports around the globe at that time, the bout was canceled.
The Halloween UFC Fight Night event features Uriah Hall vs. Anderson Silva in the main event.
“I’m pretty excited about the main event on the card, because I became a big fan right around the time Anderson Silva was considered the greatest of all-time,” Williams said. “Now I’m fighting on the same card as him. It’s a chance to meet another legend of the game.”
Williams, a decorated high school wrestler who has an 11-2 professional record, will go up against Witt, who Williams said is a standout grappler. Witt, who fights out of Kansas City, has a 17-6 record and also is coming off a UFC debut fight that was taken on short notice.
“He moves pretty well on his feet … but he’s a good wrestler, so he likes to take his opponent down and grind out a win through his wrestling,” Williams said. “He’s smart on the ground, but he’s not a submission specialist and he’s not a knockout artist. He’s kind of that grinder that takes you down and wears on you.
“He’s in almost the exact same scenario. He’s been around in different promotions and different levels throughout his career. I think he’s 33 or 34 and got his opportunity on a short notice just like I did.”
Williams, who fights out of Chosen Few Gym near Madison, where he lives and works as an area manager for Best Buy, will have a busy month leading up to his second UFC fight. He and his girlfriend, Amanda, are expecting a baby daughter at the beginning of October. And his job, he said, has been flexible in getting him time to train.
“I’m trying to get my weight down a little bit sooner so I don’t have a big cut to make out there in Vegas,” Williams said. “I just want to get out there and be in really good condition. So I’m staying focused on the strength training, the cardio, running a lot more to get my weight down.
“I’m trying to be smart about how I train, as well. I’m not going to get in and spar 2-3 times a day and take a toll on my body. I’ll get in, get some solid rounds in, then the next day focus on technique and cardio.
“But it’s 2 or 3 or 4 workouts a day right now.”
It is a big commitment, but Williams wouldn’t have it any other way.
In fact, he’s happy he has the opportunity to train like he wants to the second time around.