TJ Waldburger Says UFC “Making a Smart Decision” With Bout Versus Brian Ebersole
Welterweight Believes “I Could Have Beaten” Johny Hendricks
By Kelsey Mowatt
While Brian Ebersole has received his fair share of coverage lately, due in large part to the veteran’s three consecutive victories in the UFC and a 10 fight win streak, TJ Waldburger understands that with that success comes a great opportunity for himself. Of course, Waldburger will take on Ebersole at the upcoming June 22nd, UFC on FX card, and the 24 year-old welterweight is hoping to capture headlines by ending his opponent’s impressive run.
“Oh man, it was excitement,” Waldburger told FCF, while discussing his reaction upon finding out he would fight the 31 year-old Ebersole next. “I knew I was given a chance, which means that the UFC and Joe Silva see me at that level. That’s the main thing; I feel that I’m at that level now and for them to see it too is just really exciting. So I’m glad to put on a show, go out there, and prove that I’m ready for it.”
Waldburger (15-6) was awarded the bout following his 55 second, submission win via armbar over Jake Hecht in March, which extended his UFC record to 3-1.
“He’s done really well for himself,” Waldburger noted about Ebersole (49-14-1), who has defeated Dennis Hallman, Chris Lytle and most recently Claude Patrick since arriving in the UFC last year. “I think they’re making a smart decision by putting me up against him. I’m honestly not in that big of a hurry, and I still have a lot of things I need to work on, but if I feel like I’m ready for it I’m ready when they are.”
Despite the fact that Waldburger is coming off back-to-back, first round submission wins, and further, the only man to defeat him in his last five fights is current contender Johny Hendricks, Ebersole will be the favorite come June 22nd.
“I really enjoy being the underdog,” Waldburger said. “If they overlook me, they look past me, and I don’t mind that at all. I’ve always kind of been that way because I’ve been the younger guy in the sport, or the less experienced guy…There’s only way to show it and that’s in the ring.”
Since arriving in the UFC, Ebersole has turned in large part to his wrestling and punishing top game to go undefeated in three straight bouts.
“I think he’s dangerous everywhere,” said Waldburger. “He’s a well rounded and seasoned fighter, and he’s unorthodox in all his styles which makes him very dangerous. It also makes it fun because you don’t know what to expect….we’re kind of similar in styles where we’re both willing to go for things. I’m 100% certain that this will be the highlight of the card. If it’s not another submission or knockout of the fight, then it’s definitely fight of the night for sure.”
“I feel confident in all aspects of the game,” Waldburger added, who has recorded 11 submission wins to date. “But also I know that I have to be leery because he knows what to do and he’s unorthodox, so its just be on my toes and see who comes out and imposes their will.”
To date, the only man to defeat Waldburger in his UFC tenure is current contender Johny Hendricks, who stopped the Texas fighter at a UFC Fight Night card in March, 2011.
“I feel good but I feel like there is more that I can show,” said Waldburger, while discussing his career and UFC record thus far. “I’m not complaining, and I like the first round wins, and a lot of them have been first round, submission wins, so I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the Octagon.”
“I knew I could have beaten him; I knew I had more,” the Grappler’s Lair fighter added about the loss to Hendricks. “To see him go that far makes it even harder, because I know I’m at that level, I know I can beat him. But, a fight’s a fight, and he beat me that day and that’s just the way it rolls sometimes. I’ll have my chance another day.”