The first year of Pat Sabatini’s UFC career was one that many fighters hope and train for. Three fights, three victories.
“It was a great experience and I feel like I learned a lot in each one of those fights, as far as just going through the process of getting ready for those fights and being on this big stage,” Sabatini told UFC.com ahead of his bout at UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Muhammad 2. “It’s only preparing for these future fights, like the one this weekend.”
The 31-year-old left 2021 with two decision victories over Tristan Connelly and Tucker Lutz, in addition to a first-round heel hook finish against Jamall Emmers. Even with the impressive showings that Sabatini has had this far, he feels that he is going to go out and show an even better version of himself this weekend.
He wants to show all-around improvement, which includes his wrestling and his game while on his feet. Throughout his time inside the Octagon, he has learned many things, but one thing stands out the most.
“Just believe in myself,” Sabatini said. “There’s a lot of outside factors that come into play with this sport, as everyone knows, but just always believe in myself.”
The Philadelphia native is confident that he showed his ability to take people down and control them. He’s earned 10 of his 16 victories by submission, only suffering three losses in his career. The featherweight still has more to offer.
He’s eager to show that this weekend against Canadian TJ Laramie, who is stepping in on short notice to replace Gavin Tucker. This weekend’s bout is Laramie’s first fight in over 18 months. Yet Laramie’s absence away from the Octagon isn’t something that Sabatini has paid any attention to.
“I haven’t really thought into that; I actually didn’t know it had been that long since his last fight,” Sabatini said. “I just focus on myself and worry about what I need, not so much what he needs to do.”
Laramie steps into the bout ready to redeem himself after dropping his promotional debut against Darrick Minner. The Dana White’s Contender Series grad has complied a 12-4 professional record, with seven wins by knockout and two by submission.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight; he’s a very game opponent, has a lot of experience, and I think our styles match up very well and we’re going to put on a show,” Sabatini said. “Anything could happen; I could come out with a weird takedown, weird submission, knockout, anything.”
There isn’t one specific aspect of Laramie’s game that Sabatini feels threatened by. He knows at this level everything that an opponent brings to the table is dangerous, but he is confident in his training and skill set.
Sabatini believes the featherweight division is continuing to get deeper and deeper, with more competition constantly rising. Last weekend, featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski put on another impressive showing at UFC 273 for his third successful title defense. Sabatini understands the weight that another year of dominant fights carries, and it starts with a win on Saturday night.
“I think a statement victory does everything for me in the division,” Sabatini said. “I think it will put more eyes on me and propel me further in the ranks, and that would be a finish.”
UFC Fight Night: Luque vs Muhammad 2, took place on Saturday, April 16, 2022, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!