When you think about the roster of the crowded welterweight division, there are a variety of wrestlers and strikers that might pop into your head. However, when you begin to think about submission specialists, you might draw a blank. That’s something that 24-year-old T.J. Waldburger is out to change.

With 12 of his 15 careers wins coming by way of tapout, Waldburger and his 3-1 record within the UFC have largely flown under the radar thus far in his promotional career. Now, he’ll take a big step up in competition as he takes on grizzled veteran Brian Ebersole on the UFC on FX 4 main card on June 22 from Atlantic City, N.J.

The bout with Ebersole comes on the heels of Waldburger’s last performance—a 55-second destruction of Jake Hecht in March.

Waldburger (bottom) locks in a triangle choke (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“Jake Hecht was a worthy opponent and I am thankful I was able to get the win,” Waldburger told The MMA Corner about the quick armbar victory.

Surprisingly for anyone who watched the fight with Hecht, Waldburger did not take home the Submission of the Night bonus, something he previously took home in his triangle choke finish of Mike Stumpf last September.

“I love to end fights,” the Texan exclaimed. “I hate going the distance because it doesn’t feel like I’ve finished the match yet.”

Finishing his next opponent may be a little more difficult as Ebersole is riding a 10-fight winning streak. Making the task even more daunting for Waldburger is the fact that Ebersole has gone the distance 20 times in his 65 career fights, compared to Waldburger’s three.

“Brian is a well-rounded fighter,” explained the welterweight. “I expect a well-versed fight displaying every aspect in MMA.”

Facing someone as experienced as Ebersole is nothing new to the young ground ace. After all, he holds wins over well-traveled veterans Pat Healy and Pete Spratt prior to his time with the UFC. He believes that will serve him well come Friday night.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself as a fighter from facing fighters such as those,” said Waldburger. “I can’t wait to show my skills inside the Octagon and hopefully (that experience) will pay off.”

Waldburger (L) works for an armbar (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Although it was 2005 when Ebersole was last forced to tap, if there’s a chink in his armor, it’s submission defense. Nine of his 14 career defeats have come by way of submission. It’s something that Waldburger hopes to exploit when the cage door shuts in New Jersey.

“I’m going to fight my fight, not his,” he declared. “I’ll be looking to take him down and capitalize.”

With so many contenders already in the mix at 170 pounds, a fourth promotional win may pit Waldburger against a top-10 opponent. But with his lone UFC loss coming to current contender Johny Hendricks, the grappling stalwart isn’t in a hurry to get to the top.

“I’m still learning daily and I’m in no rush,” admitted Waldburger. “(It will come) all in good time. Whenever and whoever the UFC feels like I should fight, I’m ready.”

A decisive win over Ebersole may just prove how ready he is.

T.J. would like to thank his gym, Grapplers Lair. Also Paradigm MMA Management, Vitrustream, RYU Apparel, Hoist, Havyk, Venum, Lexani Wheels, Incandescent Photography,Peak Performance w/Brian Cain, and Perfecting Athletes Nutrition. Follow TJ on Twitter: @TJWaldburger

Top Photo: T.J. Waldburger (Scott McKinley Photography)

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