Tomorrow night marks the beginning of a two day extravaganza of UFC entertainment. UFC On FX 4 is definitely packing a bigger punch, in my humble opinion, and the bout between Brian Ebersole and T.J. Waldburger is one of the reasons why. This age old battle of youth vs. experience should prove to be an exciting tale to watch unfold. I was able to get a short interview with T.J. to get his thoughts leading into Friday night's card.
Stephie Daniels: What are your overall thoughts about taking on a guy with as much experience as Brian Ebersole?
T.J. Waldburger: I consider it a huge honor. I've fought a couple guys that had a lot of experience in the past, but this guy takes the cake. I also think that once you get to a certain number of fights, that only goes so far. You can only acquire so much experience, because the way you want to be is just like fighting in your gym, in your dojo, and once you get that, it really doesn't get any better. That's what I think. I'm very comfortable in the octagon, and I'm sure he is too, so it's probably going to be a battle.
Stephie Daniels: You've got quite a few fights under your belt for just being 24 years old.
T.J. Waldburger: Yeah, I started out when I was 16, and as soon as my mom and dad could sign me up, I went ahead and did it. I had my first pro fight a couple months after I turned 17, with parental consent, and I've just been rockin' and rollin' since then. I ended up being pretty good at it, and here I am today.
Stephie Daniels: Do you wonder why the UFC didn't let this fight go down on the Australia card earlier this year?
T.J. Waldburger: I know, but I kind of look at it like this; I was able to go over and win in Australia and get some good fans. Australia is awesome, and they're a rowdy bunch. If I would've won there against Brian, they probably would've hated me, so I wouldn't have had many fans [laughs].
Stephie Daniels: When you think of Brian Ebersole, the first thing that comes to mind is his chest rug. What do you think of it?
T.J. Waldburger: I don't know. It's kind of sexy. I hope I don't fall in love with him while we're fighting [laughs]. You know they say that love isn't too far from fighting.
Stephie Daniels: When I spoke with Brian a few days ago, he said that the most important tactic with you is to keep you out of range. Do you think he'll be able to be effective in that aspect?
T.J. Waldburger: I don't know. I'll play outside with him, I'll play inside with him. We'll just kind of take it wherever it goes. I feel confident everywhere, so we'll have to see how the cards play out.
Stephie Daniels: Brian told me that he was "the ocean", and that he was either going to crash down on you or drown you with martial skill and knowledge. How do you feel about that?
T.J. Waldburger: You know, Bruce Lee said to be like water, so if I'm water, and he's an ocean, then I'm just going to go and roll with him. Hopefully, I'm a little denser, so I'll end up on top.
Stephie Daniels: You've got a very solid record with notable wins over very tough guys. The stinger that stands out most recently is your loss to Johny Hendricks. Is it important to you to avenge that loss at some point down the road?
T.J. Waldburger: Yeah, eventually I'd like to get back in there with him, but all in good time, though. Right now, it's Brian Ebersole. Maybe next fight, or the fight after next.
Stephie Daniels: Let's say you get the win over Brian. Where do you think that would put you in the line of contention?
T.J. Waldburger: Well, they have Brian in the Top 20, so that would put me where I could be fighting those top level guys, the ones that are right there under the contender spot. That's what I'm looking for.
Stephie Daniels: What have been the biggest differences in talent level that you've noted in going from fighting on regional and local cards to coming into the UFC?
T.J. Waldburger: It's not rerally that different, to be honest. There's no magic tricks. We know the same stuff. Carlos Machado brought it here to Texas a long time ago. I think as far as Texas, we;re definitely a force to be reckoned with. Not only do we have numbers on our side, but we have the experience too. I'm hoping one day we'll be one of the top states for MMA.
Stephie Daniels: Are you more old school with your training, or do you like to mix it up with the new age techniques?
T.J. Waldburger: I keep it old school. I don't have too much money, so I do what I can. They got around in the ancient Roman days and did alright [laughs]. I'm just kind of making it as I go. I've got some nutritionists that give me advice, and a massage therapist. A chiropractor goes a long way. A chiropractor can be your best friend. I'd say I'm pretty old fashioned.
Stephie Daniels: For much of your career, you've fought almost exclusively in Texas until you joined the UFC. Would you like to see them do more shows in or around Texas, or are you more enjoying the travel aspect that it affords you?
T.J. Waldburger: Heck yeah. Bring it back to Texas. My first one was in Austin. I like being close to home. Now fighting in Australia was a dream come true. That was an amazing experience. Ireland, Brazil, Japan...there's so many places I'd love to go. If I had to name just one place, I would probably have to say Japan. That's where it all kind of started, and the people there hold the fighters in such great regard. Even if you're 0-10, they respect you just because you stepped in there and showed heart. You don't get the booing and all that. That's my number one place to go.
Follow T.J. via his Twitter, @TJWaldburger