Three UFC wins, two submission wins during his Octagon tenure, and one great deal of promise all belong to Anthony “TJ” Waldburger. A brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Waldburger will square off with Nick Catone on the preliminary portion of The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.

Catone will drop to welterweight to fight Waldburger after a recent loss to Chris Camozzi. Waldburger recently lost at UFC on FX 4 to Brian Ebersole, but nonetheless, he accepted the fight with Catone on his part after UFC matchmaker Joe Silva offered him the bout. Coming into this fight, only Catone knows how much size he will have on Waldburger on fight night, but Waldburger already has an idea of what to expect.

“I’m expecting him to be a big guy,” Waldburger told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview, “a powerhouse in the welterweight division.”

Waldburger (bottom) goes for an armbar (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The power of Catone, a former NCAA Div. I wrestler who came into the UFC at 7-0, accompanies the wrestling that helps set up his ground-and-pound attack. After consecutive losses to Tim Credeur and Mark Munoz, Catone picked up a two-fight winning streak, albeit one that saw him compete just once in 2010 and once in 2011. The Camozzi loss came a little over a year after his UFC 128 victory over Constantinos Philippou.

Despite his loss to Ebersole, Waldburger remains unphased. Not only will he look forward to the fight itself, but as he prepares for this Saturday night, Waldburger feels 100 percent prepared.

“I think my training has upped,” Waldburger said. “A big thing for that fight was my weight cut, and then my post-weight as well. Rehydrating and stuff, I think I did a few things wrong. Sometimes you learn the hard way, and you try not to make the same mistake again. I feel better than I have in years.”

Waldburger will cite a number of items when asked about how he feels before this welterweight collision. Aside from the weight cut, he mentions his cardio, his energy level and his technique, specifically. One can also credit his focus as fight night approaches, as he knows not to look past Catone until he gets the win.

Waldburger (R) looks to get inside (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“I’m just looking at the fight right now,” Waldburger said. “I want to move up the ladder, so I want to continue progressing and fighting the veterans. Whoever Joe Silva gives me is fine, but my mind and everything else right now is on Catone.”

Now that he no longer goes up and down in weight to get where he needs to be, fans who follow Waldburger can and will see a man who looks better physically and competitively than he ever looked in wins over Jake Hecht and Mike Stumpf.

“That’s just my style, I think I make an exciting fight out of anyone, and I’m going to go in there and try to finish it. I’m not going to hold [Catone] down and just do what I can to ‘get by’ by the judges. I’m going to step it up and try to finish the fight.

“I want to prove that I’m that guy.”

TJ would like to thank Virtustream and its CEO Rodney Rogers, as well as Hayabusa MMA, Bellator veteran Steve Carl, Grappler’s Lair, Paradigm Sports and Michelle Engel.

Top Photo: TJ Waldburger (R) looks for a kick (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.