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Tom Pagliarulo on pro debut win: “It’s on me to do my job”

Tom Pagliarulo is taking matters into his own hands.

It’s an added bonus having the 2020 Coach of the Year Tyson Chartier is in your corner, alongside UFC contenders Rob Font and Calvin Kattar. The 23-year-old is still the one competing inside the cage, which is why he put the pressure on himself during his professional debut.

He earned a second-round TKO victory over Shawn Stefanelli at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 92 on March 11, on just four-days notice.

“Tyson says like, ‘You know that plays a role in your opponent. They see you come to the cage with these guys in your corner,’ but I always tell him, ‘I am responsible for my own success,” Pagliarulo said. 

“It definitely helps…I think it’s important to have a corner you trust, but at the end of the day, it’s just him [Stefanelli] and me in there. It’s on me to do my job.”

Tom Pagliarulo made pro debut on four-days notice

Pagliarulo took care of his end in a dominant victory, forcing Stefanelli’s corner to literally throw in the towel during the second round. The towel hit Pagliarulo’s foot, but the “The Phenom” finally realized he won after he received further confirmation from Font.

The victory capped an eventful four days. Pagliarulo found himself enjoying dinner with his girlfriend and her family before Chartier called him with the news of a fight.

Pagliarulo never finished his meal and started working to get his weight down. Walking around 162 pounds at the time, Pagliarulo eventually hit the 150-pound catchweight mark. In fact, he came in under at 148.5 pounds.

His professional debut came fast, but Pagliarulo made it through the entire process like a veteran.

“It didn’t catch me off guard, this is what I’ve been waiting for,” Pagliarulo said. I knew that’s what I wanted to happen, I am super grateful for the opportunity.”


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Cast of the Cartel

Pagliarulo is less than a month into his professional career, but is no stranger to the professional fight scene. He is teammates with Font and Kattar of the New England Cartel,  both who are ranked in the top 10 of their respected divisions.

Font is the third-ranked UFC bantamweight and currently on a three-fight win streak. He is set to face former champion Cody Garbrandt at UFC’s May 22 event. 

Pegged at No. 6 in the 145-pound division, Kattar is the winner of two of his last three octagon appearances. Pagliarulo recently served as Kattar’s main sparring partner against Max Holloway at UFC on ABC 1 this past January.

Kattar lost via unanimous decision, but fought through all five rounds against the former champion. Pagliarulo is only contributing to the most recent success of the team, led by Chartier.

“It’s a privilege man, they are like family to me,” Pagliarulo said. “I train with two of the best dudes in the world on a daily basis.”

Eager to get back

Pagliarulo expects to return to the CFFC cage sooner rather than later. The rising prospect is putting his focus on preparing Font for his May bout, but plans to return to action this June. 

Pagliarulo enjoys making the walk to the cage with a full-fight camp behind him, but already proved he can win on short notice. 

Just hours after getting his hand raised in Philadelphia-Pennsylvania, Pagliarulo and his team were already driving back up to the New England area. The celebration was short-lived, but that’s how he prefers it.

With his team behind him, Pagliarulo is ready to put the pressure back on himself. He’s looking forward to it.

“With COVID and everything, it seemed like this day was never coming,” Pagliarulo said. “It’s kind of on the next one, I have a hard time enjoying things. I’m eager to get back to the gym.”

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