Brian Ebersole has a plan for his future in the UFC, and it doesn’t involve the welterweight division. Though Ebersole will fight T.J. Waldburger at 170 pounds at Friday’s UFC on FX 4 event, he told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour that it could be the last time we’ll see him at that weight class for a while.
"I would like to go 4-0 in the UFC and then make a bid at lightweight," said Ebersole, who’s currently riding a three-fight win streak since debuting in the UFC last year. "I fought lightweight in 2008 and 2009, for about a 12-month span. I was waking up at 172 pounds every day without really trying."
For the bout with Waldburger, Ebersole said he stuck to a strict diet that helped him get most of the way down to the welterweight limit with little effort. "If I can keep that without getting back up to 200 pounds after this fight -- so no bacon for me on Saturday morning -- I think the next couple of months could be very telling," he told Helwani.
Naturally, Ebersole already has some thoughts about who he might like to face in the 155-pound division, assuming his dietary discipline allows for the move. Ebersole said he’d like to start "at the top of the division," adding: "I want someone that’s either beat Clay Guida or Clay Guida’s beat himself."
"I wouldn’t mind beating up a Diaz, maybe Nate," Ebersole continued. "Jim Miller’s a talented dude. I want to start up there. I don’t care if they’re coming off a win or coming off a loss, I just want to prove that I belong in that top ten, top 15."
A fight with one of the Diaz brothers is of particular interest to Ebersole, he said, because "they’ve kind of got punk attitudes."
"And to be fair," he told Helwani, "I’ve seen Nick threaten you a time or two during interviews. I don’t really find that very professional or very kind."
But before Ebersole can put too much thought into future opponents, first he has to get past Waldburger, who’s 3-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming against Johny Hendricks. Ebersole described him as a "very talented submission guy," and said he’s glad to be fighting someone closer to his prime after taking on veterans like Chris Lytle, Dennis Hallman, and Claude Patrick.
"It’s about time I fought someone in his 20s," Ebersole said. "I think they’re just testing to see if I can beat a young guy. Whether it’s a young guy in the top ten or not is for everyone else to kind of determine. The kid, in my eyes, hasn’t really been totally beaten in the UFC. His fight with Hendricks was stopped early."
Taking on a young fighter like Waldburger is, according to Ebersole, "kind of like fighting back in Australia...I can’t let this young kid make his name off me. So I’ve got to go out there and protect my reputation."
But aside from his next fight and his future beyond it, one of the topics Ebersole really wanted to discuss with Helwani was the continuing saga of Bob Sapp, he said.
"I was actually going to bring him up before this day was over, because I was very entertained by his interview with you and his backpedaling and his justification of the sham that he is proceeding through the sport of MMA. My question to you is, why do these promoters think he’s worth 800 $50 tickets to their show?"
As Ebersole explained, many MMA events on the small circuit don’t charge as much as $50 for general admission seats, so it seems odd that they would regard Sapp’s efforts as being worth $30,000 for "one guy that’s not even going to fill five minutes of their time."
What really bothers him is not simply that promoters are overpaying Sapp and underpaying other fighters, Ebersole said, but that Sapp puts forth such a minimum effort for such a price.
"It’s very bothersome that he just goes out and throws the fight. I understand what he’s saying about not getting hurt, but at least Shannon Ritch would grapple with you in an earnest effort to rip your heel off. He would go for a heel hook, and if you stacked him and started punching him he would tap. Or if you mounted him, he would tap without you even hitting him. At least he gave a half-assed effort. Bob’s going out there, ducking his head, grabbing the guy in a double-leg and actually pulling some semblance of side control usually, and it’s a bit gross."
As far as his own immediate future is concerned, Ebersole said he’d soon be traveling to Thailand for a coaching job after his business in Atlantic City is concluded. He also suggested that he might be interested in coaching the UFC’s upcoming Australia vs. UK season of The Ultimate Fighter.
"I think it’d be a dream job, I really do," said Ebersole, who lived and trained in Australia for years. "To be able to be in the house with such talented young guys, and be able to take from them and give back, I think we would feed off of each other quite well."