UFC on FX 4 Notebook: Clean Slate for T.J. Waldburger

By Brian Knapp Jun 20, 2012
T.J. Waldburger has adopted a walk-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick approach. A man of few words, the 24-year-old Texan has quietly compiled a 3-1 mark inside one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s deepest divisions.

Waldburger will collide with globetrotter Brian Ebersole in a featured welterweight matchup at UFC on FX 4 “Maynard vs. Guida” on Friday at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. He will enter the cage on the strength of back-to-back submission wins over Mike Stumpf and Jake Hecht but understands momentum in mixed martial arts oftentimes proves fleeting.

“I think momentum is more mental than anything,” Waldburger told Sherdog.com. “I take each fight individually, so I start with a clean slate.”

In Ebersole, he faces a seasoned foe on quite the tear. The 31-year-old La Porte, Ind., native has not tasted defeat in nearly four years, having rattled of 10 straight victories. His streak includes UFC wins over Chris Lytle, Dennis Hallman and Claude Patrick.

“Ebersole is a well-rounded veteran of the sport,” Waldburger said. “He has a ton of experience and brings every aspect of the sport to the Octagon.”

A Shark Fights champion, Waldburger holds the rank of brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has secured 12 of his 15 professional victories by submission. He trains under John Moore at The Grapplers Lair in Belton, Texas. Moore has had a profound influence on his career.

“He’s had an impact in every aspect that there could be,” Waldburger said. “He’s my best friend, brother, mentor, coach, idol, and now he’s my father-in-law. I continue to learn from him daily.”

Having turned professional in November 2005 at the age of 17, Waldburger has proven vulnerable to wrestlers and strikers throughout his career. Five of his six defeats have come by knockout or technical knockout, including a March 2011 loss to two-time NCAA wrestling champion and surging UFC welterweight contender Johny Hendricks. Waldburger chalks up the setbacks to experience.

Sam Stout File Photo

Stout wants the rubber match.
“What’s in the past is in the past,” he said. “I learn from all my fights. I study my mistakes from my wins and my losses.”

Next up: a date with Ebersole.

“Beating him would bring me one step closer to beating the best of the best,” Waldburger said. “It would be an honor.”

Final Chapter

MMA has a long and storied history of memorable trilogies, from Chuck Liddell-Randy Couture and Wanderlei Silva-Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to Fedor Emelianenko-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Georges St. Pierre-Matt Hughes. Soon, Sam Stout-Spencer Fisher will be added to the list.

Stout and Fisher will lock horns with one another for the third time in the UFC on FX 4 co-main event. Stout won the first encounter between the two by split decision at UFC 58 in March 2006. Fisher answered with a unanimous verdict in their rematch 15 months later at UFC Fight Night 10.

Once one of the cornerstones of the lightweight division, Fisher has lost four of his past five bouts. The 36-year-old Pat Miletich protégé last appeared at UFC 134 in August, when he succumbed to second-round punches from Thiago Tavares at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Fisher holds Stout in high regard.

“He’s the toughest opponent I have faced in the UFC, stylistically,” he told UFC.com in a pre-fight interview. “He’s as tough as they get.”

Stout, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down ride since entering the UFC six years ago, compiling a 6-6 mark inside the Octagon. A three-time “Fight of the Night” winner, the 28-year-old Canadian has established himself as one of the premier strikers in the 155-pound division. Stout carries with him a strong desire to win his rubber match with Fisher.

“I think that my first two fights against Spencer were the fights that really launched my career,” he said. “In any trilogy of fights, the third one is the one that really matters, so I am approaching this fight with more diligence and determination than any other fight I have prepared for.”

This & That

Tied up in his rivalry with former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar for the better part of 18 months, Gray Maynard has not won a fight since he defeated Kenny Florian by unanimous decision at UFC 118 in August 2010. He meets Clay Guida in the main event ... UFC on FX 4 will feature three fighters making their promotional debuts: C.J. Keith, Brock Jardine and Joey Gambino. Keith and Gambino are undefeated ... A week after he submitted former King of the Cage champion Jared Papazian with a first-round rear-naked choke at UFC on FX 3, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 alum Dustin Pague agreed to replace the injured Francisco Rivera in a preliminary bantamweight matchup with American Top Team’s Ken Stone ... The UFC has not held an event in Atlantic City since UFC 53 “Heavy Hitters” in June 2005. That show featured an interim heavyweight title bout between Andrei Arlovski and the late Justin Eilers. Arlovski won by first-round technical knockout.


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