TJ Laramie tests skills against Pat Sabatini at UFC Vegas 51 on April 16th. This card emanates from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada with broadcast options on ESPN and ESPN+.
I spoke with Laramie ahead of this fight and excerpts from our chat are below.
Where the confidence comes from as he heads into this one
“It’s everything really honestly. I was ready for Melsik (Baghdasaryan) too. Doesn’t matter, the opponent switch. But coincidentally, I was actually training with Gavin Tucker. Sabatini’s previous opponent for this fight. I was pretty much emulating Sabatini for Gavin. So I know him like the back of my hand. So when my opponent got injured and Gavin got injured, they just matched us up. It was more than okay with me because I already knew everything about Sabatini that I needed to.”
“I think style-wise it’s great for me. Even though I’ve been away from the cage for a while, I’ve still done like three or four training camps since then, almost. I’ve just been getting better and better. And I can’t wait to show my skills, man. I haven’t been this hungry in a long time. So I feel great. I feel a lot less pressure on me than I did when I got in the UFC. It’s just about going out there and performing now.”
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The bit of a layoff from competition reigniting certain fires in Laramie
“Yeah, 100%. The one thing, especially training in Toledo at Adamas there, it’s such a team atmosphere. Everybody around you is constantly competing. Everybody is taking it seriously and holding you accountable. Not to the point where it’s not fun anymore, but we could fucking talk shit but in a constructive criticism type of way. Where it’s like everybody’s friends at the end of the day, but we can still push each other to get each other better. It’s just something I don’t feel like I’ve had a team atmosphere in a long time. I think it’s great.”
“Of course, there’s other places I’ve been training too. Michigan Top Team, MTC, Tecumseh Jiu-Jitsu, even Niagara Top Team. I visited for this training, especially when my opponent switched up. And I can’t thank these people enough either. But I would say as far as my team goes, Adamas has been there, no matter what. That’s where I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of my time.”
TJ Laramie vs Pat Sabatini
Thoughts on Pat Sabatini’s stylistic proclivities and Laramie’s feelings on what he does well
“So I think it’s quite obvious that he’s a grappler. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a single fight of his where he’s really done any stand-up at all. If he’s doing it, he’s throwing hands to get to your legs. In any fight I’ve ever seen and I pretty much watched them all. I think he must be pretty strong. But I’ve heard from people he’s not strong. So you never really know until you get in there. But he has a skill set that doesn’t scare me. He’s not really fast. He doesn’t seem like he hits too hard.”
“He’s just a grinding, gritty grappler. Those guys can make fights hard, but it’s just not a style that works well against me, man. I’ve got good hips, I’ve got really great takedown defense. I’m fast, I have great boxing, especially against shorter guys. Like I said, my skill set has even just improved. He’s a great jiu-jitsu practitioner actually. His actual BJJ is pretty good. It’s just not as good as mine. Certainly not as good as the guys I train with. I think he’s gonna be in a lot of trouble on April 16th. And I’m gonna surprise a lot of people just simply based on the recency bias.”
“Then whatever, people are going to talk about me the way they talked about me before the last fight. It’s just gonna go back to normal. But that’s the biggest thing is he’s a good grappler. He’s gritty. His open mat shot, not good. But it’ll get you to the fence and it’ll wear you down. His striking, not very good. His grit and his cardio, very good. But so is mine. I think this fight is gonna be a shutout, if not a finish. Yeah, I look forward to it.”
Parting thoughts for TJ Laramie
“I just want to thank everybody who’s participated. Not only this training camp but every training camp that has gotten me to this one. It seems it’s taken four to get here. But we’re finally here. I feel great. And yeah, I just want to thank everybody who has taken part. You know who you are. Don’t really have to name everybody. There’s so many people who have taken part. I look forward to seeing everybody April 16th. Definitely tune in because it’s gonna be a good fight. It’s gonna be a great performance on my end.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.