The UFC On FX 4 card is my "go to" event for next weekend. UFC 147 looks great, but I personally feel Friday night's card has more punch. One of the fights I'm really looking forward to is Brian Ebersole vs. T.J. Waldburger. One crafty veteran with a well rounded skillset against a young submission artist, looking to make a name for himself. I recently conducted an short interview with Brian, and got his take on the fight, as well as a possible move back to the United States, and what he thinks of the current wave of injuries the UFC is currently experiencing with it's fighters.
Stephie Daniels: Where have you been training for this fight?
Brian Ebersole: It's been a bit of a tri nations affair. I started out in Australia when I signed the fight, then I went to Thailand and trained four weeks there, and finally to America for the last seven weeks leading in. I spent a little bit of time in Chicago with a former college teammate of mine, Kyle Bracey, and then spent some time with Matt Hughes' coach, Marc Fiore. I went for two weeks out to Robert Drysdale's in Vegas, and now I'm back at Marc Fiore's for my last hard week of training.
Stephie Daniels: You're currently on a ten fight win streak. Do you feel that there's more pressure than ever to win because you feel the necessity to maintain the streak, or is it less, because you've got ten consecutive wins behind you?
Brian Ebersole: There's always pressure to win. It affects the next phase of your career. After winning a couple fights, I know I'm not getting any easy ones, not that there are any guys on the welterweight roster in the UFC. Even outside the UFC, you go on these win streaks, you're not going to get handed easy fights. The pressure is always there, especially with the run I'm on. I don't know how far away I am from getting a big shot, whether that be a big contract, a big fight or getting to headline a card. Those are the opportunities that we sit and wait for, and you obviously have to be coming off of a win to get those.
A fight is a fight, and we tend to look at it one at a time. Going back over my career, the fights where I came in pressure free, were the ones I came in as the underdog. When I fought Chris Lytle, everyone thought I was the underdog, and I was very comfortable with that match-up. When I fought Carlos Newton, again I was the underdog, but I also felt comfortable with the match-up. I was able to perform in those two fights specifically, at a very high level and with a very good flow, because I didn't sit and think and worry. The fights that have really had me most nervous, are the up and comers, especially in Australia. If I lose to that guy, that's a really big setback, so the win didn't really get me that much, the paydays were ok, but not great, but a loss could have really devastated me, and put me right on the back burner.
Stephie Daniels: Do you feel like, at 31, that you've really hit your stride, and are performing at the most optimal level you can, and are in your "fighter prime"?
Brian Ebersole: Yeah, I really do. I've had a lot of experience in 75 fights. In the last couple of years, I've really been able to choose who I train with and where. Before, I trained hard, but I wasn't always training smart. Not to peg just this one gym, but I trained at AKA and we sparred three times a week, so I think I was walking around a little bit dull in the head, and in a bit of a fog back then.
I was getting the hard training, and getting the experience with striking, which I needed, but I didn't really feel that my grappling game really improved that much, other than being able to handle the pressure of a Jon Fitch or a Mike Swick. I didn't learn some of the technical small stuff like I'm learning from Robert Drysdale or some of the black belts I've been around in Australia. Now that I've got this comfort and confidence in all three ranges of fighting, and I'm really starting to train more scientifically, I really do feel that I'm at my best right now.
Stephie Daniels: You mentioned training smart, and with the current rash of injuries in the UFC, do you think some fighters are making mistakes in their training or do you think some of the injuries might be preventable?
Brian Ebersole: There's got to be a few of these injuries that are definitely preventable. I wouldn't say it's the overall theory of the gym or the coach or even the athlete. I just think you get those moments where you're competing with a guy, say you're training with a guy that knows how to wrestle, and you're changing levels, there's a really high percentage of head clashes that can cause serious cuts. This week, my biggest thing is really trying to concede every now and again, when I change levels at the same time as someone I'm training with. I think guys have trouble, especially in this kind of sport, with letting the other guy get one over on him because it's such a competitive arena. It's all about dominance, and some of these guys have a hard time letting their training partner get that takedown or position.
Stephie Daniels: Where do you think you'll need to be particularly cautious of TJ's style?
Brian Ebersole: Well, he's younger and probably better looking than me, so I think he's probably going to do better with the interviews and photos before the fight [laughs]. He's obviously a talented submission guy, and I think that's what he would lean towards. I don't really know that much about his hands. Yeah, he's a really talented grappler, and I think I just need to control that range of combat, and not let him get comfortable.
Stephie Daniels: Where do you think your biggest advantage will be?
Brian Ebersole: My biggest advantage is in the octagon [laughs]. I am the ocean. I am either gonna crash on him, or he's gonna come and play the game and I'm gonna drown him in an ocean of knowledge and martial skill.
Stephie Daniels: You've been on this incredible win streak. Where do you think a win in this fight puts you?
Brian Ebersole: Well, I don't know if they look at me like Dan Hardy or if they look at me like Jon Fitch. Dan got a title shot after four fights. Jon had to wait nine, and then had to wait another three years. Then his chance got taken away with one punch by Johny Hendricks. As unfortunate as that was, it had to be frustrating because he went undefeated for another three years before that happened. I don't know what they look at me like.
Stephie Daniels: With your increased UFC activity, do you consider moving back to the states, especially since you train over here extensively?
Brian Ebersole: When I got the UFC contract, I told my girlfriend that I was going to have to spend more time in the US with better people. There are good guys in Australia, but they're spread out, and it's very expensive to fly them all in to Melbourne to train with me. That said, yeah, the US is definitely going to be a bit more on my radar. I just took a job in Thailand, so in 2013, I'm going to spend six months at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket. That puts me in a position to wait for a fight, and start my training camp out there, which has pretty much been my routine anyway.
Follow Brian via his Twitter, @TWASEbersole