Following a win in February 2020, bantamweight Mark Slyter was looking to build momentum when the novel coronavirus pandemic sidelined him for the last nearly 20 months.
Luckily for Slyter, he’s been able to stay active training both on his own, and with his team following the lifting of restrictions, so he doesn’t feel as if his time away from the cage has been wasted.
“I’ve just been grinding away,” Slyter told MMAWeekly.com. “Right when Covid started I actually redid my basement and created a little gym down there. We had some people down there just sparring non-stop. Just kept pushing forward, grinding.
“At one point not being able to get fights, and with everything shut down, it was a little un-motivating, but just kept pushing forward and everything been opening back up.”
Having come into MMA with a strong grappling base, Slyter has worked to develop his submission game to further intensify the danger he poses to opponents on the ground.
“Really this last year I’ve spent a lot more time in a gi, rolling Jiu-Jitsu,” said Slyter. “I didn’t ever used to suit up in a gi and go to Jiu-Jitsu daily, which I should have been doing the whole time.
“That’s been the main change this past year, just being in a gi as much as I can and rolling as much as I can. I’m a wrestler, so I can get people to the ground pretty easily, so if I can keep working on my Jiu-Jitsu it’s just that much easier to finish them.”
This Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri, Slyter (6-3) will look return to fighting with a bang when he takes on Garrett Armfield (6-2) in the 135-pound co-main event of Shamrock FC 332.
“Garrett’s probably the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced,” Slyter said. “I know he’s a tough opponent, trains out a real solid camp, has power in his hands and has good striking. He’s a tough challenge, and I like tough fights, because that will take you where you want to go.
“I’ve watched the footage of his last loss, and to be honest with you, I’ve seen a lot of holes in his game. I see a lot of spots I can capitalize on so that just makes me that more confident.”
Having come off a convincing win in his last fight almost two years ago, Slyter doesn’t feel the need to overextend himself to try to prove anything. He would rather focus on getting better and have good performances as result of that.
“I don’t feel like I went anywhere, so I don’t do this to necessarily prove that I’m back,” said Slyter. “I just go in there and try not to think about it too much; I try to focus on training; but I don’t try to get in that moment when I’m in the cage and thinking about all of it in detail, I just try to stay relaxed.
“Even the day of the fight I try to keep my mind off of it as much as I can. When I get in there my preparation and all of that speak for itself. I just try to keep it off my mind, try to focus on training and being the best fighter I can be.”