Ep #58 – TJ Laramie

TJ Laramie is a Canadian mixed martial artist competing in the Featherweight division fighting out of Windsor, Ontario. The former TKO and PFC Featherweight Champion is expected to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series this upcoming summer.

TJ Laramie: That was quarantine been, and, and how has it been on you and your family quarantines been? It was a pretty at the beginning. It was really rough just because I feel, like everybody really didn’t, know like what to do or like for me training wise. It was like people really didn’t know like like which boundaries can push. You know what I mean kind of thing to get the extra work in so that was uh. That was really difficult, but I feel like after the first two three weeks, everything kinda for me worked out. I was able to just gave me more time to focus actually personally through myself. It gave me just with nothing really to do like, especially like there’s. No right, you can’t go out, you can’t go see people really. It was just like all right. Well, I’m just gon na try to get in the best shape. I can right now. Well, I have the opportunity and yeah: that’s basically what I try to do, I’m in I’m in Nova, Scotia we’re still pretty much all locked up, not a whole lot of movement. We can go to regular gyms, but we can’t go to like jiu-jitsu or anything like that. What see yeah, what’s the status of the gyms errors? Are they opened up again, or I know where I’m from in Windsor Ontario? I just got to Vegas today actually, but where I’m from him Windsor Ontario, there’s no gyms really open yet at all. So what was the training? Like? You said. You tried your best to stay in this good shape. Obviously, I’m sure a lot of it was done through zoom, but what was it like? You know doing a lot of cardio, I’m sure, but what sorts of things were you doing to to stage stay in shape throughout the pandemic? I was doing a lot of running. I run every day pretty much so it was good to get my weight down because in the past that’s been like an issue for me is like waiting too long to get my weight in check so starting this Campeau, with my weight already within range to make It I felt like that adds like, so that’s such an advantage for me, because I can really just focus on 100 % training the whole time, and then I was able to get a lot of good Pat work in with my coach, Cairo and then a lot Of good grappling and with my boys over at to come see, Jitsu, and it was great too, because I’m not really having a fight scheduled at the time it was good to just learn have fun. You know what I mean. There was no pressure. There was no like cuz when you have a fight scheduled you’re, always thinking about that 24/7 you’re, always kind of like it’s moving over you, not that it’s not a bad thing, but it’s hard to learn and really progressing it better. You know what I mean when you’re focused on solely just one one opponent. You know so now that you’ve got your fight scheduled man. Congratulations, you got the call. How does it feel? How does it feel to finally get a call – and you know, you’re competing on the contender series? You know I there’s like talks about me fighting on the June 20th card in Saskatoon before all the corona stuff, so I was always kind of like. I was ready that I felt like that. I felt like my time in the regional scene of MMA is over. You know what I mean. I really didn’t feel like. There was much left for me there, so I felt like the only thing left was to to go up and start fighting some better guys and get a better opportunity on a bigger stage. You know I put a lot of work into this sport. I’Ve been doing it for the last I’ve been training for the last ten years. I’Ve been professional for five, you know, essentially more than half my life has basically been or about half. My life has been dedicated to being the best I can at this. So it was just a matter of time. It was never a matter like if, but just when it was gon na happen, and I finally got my opportunity and I’m gon na definitely 100 % make the most of it. Someone else who’s on, hear your footsteps. Who’S on the radar of the UFC. Is your brother. How far, how far do you think he is from a shot at the contender series of the UFC yeah he’s actually came with me to Vegas. He uh he’s definitely close, especially for 125 right yeah, even if they’re signing guys at 125 with like lower fight records, because for those guys it’s obviously it’s harder to get fights. You know what I mean, but at the end of the day, just like me his times gon na come when it comes and he’ll be ready for it. Then you know what I mean you can’t really. You can never really be too like entitled to something like that. You’Re older deserve something. You know what I mean because there’s likely someone out there, who probably deserves it more than you or someone who might be. You know what I mean you never even know there might be some guy you’ve, never because he’s been fighting somewhere, that’s not popular and he’s 15 and one. So it’s like there’s always guys out there too, that are basically considered. I would say more deserving or something like that, but a the time is gon na come and that’s a you just got to be ready for when it comes. Is your? Is your game plan going into this buy a little bit different because it is a contender series and not everybody gets a contract if they win a lot of times, they’re looking for spectacular, finishes or crazy fights, or are you just gon na go in there and Do what you do and if you get the contract you get the contract. I feel like for this fight. It kind of is gon na force me for more of an action-packed fight, anyways, just based on the way Daniel Swain fights so he’s a very fast starter. He’S very grappling heavy-based, you know what I mean he’s not gon na come out and like try to knock me out and if well he might. But it’s it’s not it’s not one of his strong suits. You know what I mean so, and I know he’s been knocked out before so well, he’s probably not too eager to go up there and try to throw hands with me, especially after watching my last fight, I’m very good grappler, that’s probably more my strong suit, but I had a lot of really good hands too, especially when it comes to people that don’t really know how to use their range. Well, like I feel like Swain, doesn’t really know how to use his range very well he’s kind of uh. He hasn’t really progressed. If I watch his fights from six years ago versus his fights now, it seems like I’m watching the exact same fighter, so I don’t really have a specific game plan because I know that wherever this fight goes, I’m gon na be comfortable. The only thing I do have to watch out for which is like pretty obvious based on his last seven wins, have all been within the first round or two is that uh just watch out right off the hop because that’s how he likes to catch people? You know but uh other than that it’s never really beaten anybody who’s ready for the next level, and I know I’m ready for the next level. So to me, good five: do you think the MPA is gon na play a role and, and if so, what sort of rolled is it going to play? Is it it’s probably gon na be different, being able to hear everything your corner says and, at the same time not hear the crowd cheer if you’re in a slugfest? What do you think it’ll? How do you think that that didn’t know no crowds gon na affect your performance /? I don’t think it’s gon na be too too different. For me, honestly, I feel like fighting at home in like a small town, which is what I fought to my last three at was uh was a lot more like pressure, because it’s like literally anywhere, I look outside of the cage. It’S like oh [, __ ]. I know who that is, or I look out the cage like. Oh I know who that is so for me, it’s just I’m gon na be going in there and it’s just me and another guy. You know what I mean. That’S it there’s there’s nothing else. There’S no crowd, I don’t feel like there’s any extra pressure. You know what I mean for me. The pressure comes when they fights announce like that’s. When I feel the most pressure is when the fights announced. I don’t really know who I’m fighting yet. I look them up the harder I train. You know what I mean. I’Ve never really been someone to be like extremely nervous before a fight so yeah, I think, it’ll be just business as usual. You did go to decision your last two fights. Most of your fights have been stoppages. Most of your victories last two went to decision. Do you think that has something to do with similar to John Jones, where throughout his career as he matures, he takes less risks? But he dominates. Do you feel like that’s the main reason? Why or do you think it was just the the level of opposition you were up against yeah? I think it was just styles based on my fights cuz, I feel like I’ve never really changed. I’Ve never really been much of a risky fighter. I’Ve never really been. I feel like I always fight with a pretty fight, hi hi fight IQ, and I don’t really like to be the guy who’s like trying to go 1 for 1 with anybody. You know what I mean: I’d rather keep my face in check and keep my career long, but with my last two fights being decision, my fight against Parrish Stanford, I felt like it was kind of me just like I was kind of just resorting to what I Was good at a little bit too much there and I was able to just take him down hold him down the whole fight which I could have easily stood with him, but I don’t know some. I don’t know that fight. I was really disappointed myself. Actually, I was like super upset because I for sure thought I was just gon na stand with him the whole time and make it a lot easier on myself. So, but whatever I ended up going in there, shutting him out and then with Andrew Cruz. I did everything but finish that guy cuz he’s a he’s nails. You know I mean that guy was super tough, no matter what I hit him with. I rocked him many times his ankle was broken. I almost choked him out like he he just had like. Yet he had like so much resilience. You know what I mean, so I’m not too upset about that not going to finish because at the end they they’re both shutouts. That’S all that matters to me, your your last time out, you competed for title. You won, but beneath you in the card was a UFC veteran and one of my favorite fighters, Elias Theodore Theodore. Oh, what was it like to be like wow, I headlined a card with a UFC fighter beneath me. Was it like a little bit of a like rewarding, knowing that all your works paid off uh? For me, honestly, like the level when it comes to stuff like that doesn’t like it doesn’t really bother me because at the end of the day, I still have a fight. The only thing I’ve ever liked about being the main event is that I know when I’m fighting. You know what I mean. I know I’m the last fight so but I honestly being the main event like this is gon na, be my first fight. Well, I don’t even know for the main event of the card or not yeah. I don’t know how that cards working out, but if I’m not the main event, it’ll be my first fight not as a main event. My last six fights or something like that. So it’s it’s just we that’ll be the only difference between my last fights in this one. As far as like who’s above me, or had mean because the like the names, don’t the names, don’t affect me too much, it’s it’s whatever. You know what I mean. I train with very high-level guys or I trained in the same room and some very high-level guys, I’m like kind of past the point of being starstruck. You know, yeah, you’ve got you’ve, got two titles under your belt. You got to call the contender series which of those three were you like proudest, Oh getting the call or which of those two belts. I feel like my first belt was a brought in my most like proud moment, just because I know how hard I trained for that, and I know I just knew like kind of pressure. I went into someone else’s home town and I just dominated a fight that everybody thought I was gon na. Just get go in there and get and lose. You know um contender series is, it was awesome like the call, but the thing is the job’s not done yet. You know what I mean it’ll be a lot better of a feeling. When I went, you know what I mean, but that it might be a comparable feeling when I win but well we got ta, wait August 11th to feel that and then PFC was a was cool, but it just. I don’t know why petechial and just felt better. So what you hear a lot of, especially in the United States, is wrestlers getting involved in MMA because of the wrestling background. Canada doesn’t have as big of a you know, wrestling thing most schools don’t even offer it as schools. I went to anyway, don’t offer it so what was the reason behind you getting into MMA? It’S always interesting to hear it from a Canadian perspective, because I mean most Americans got involved based on wrestling, but Canadians usually come from a different background. So what got you into it, though? Basically, my it kind of just showed me those sport as like a fan, and then I was watching as a fan for a long time and eventually just tried it a class. And then I was always been an athletic kid growing up, trying all the sports in school and everything you know what I mean. I was a pretty competitive. So when I tried out my first kickboxing class, it was like it just gives you a different feeling. You know what I mean: it’s a different, it’s just a different like the way you look at things, just dude, it’s one-on-one. You know what I mean you’re. Never it’s not a team sport. You know what I mean. You’Re pruning. Your progress is solely like reflected on you, you know what I mean it. Doesn’T it’s not really like how you perform isn’t based on anybody else, so I didn’t really start with wrestling. I started with like kick boxing and MMA name and then, when I got to high school, I wrestled to can make Miami Maine better and then I did okay wrestling in high school, but it definitely liked that wrestling like my MMA base is almost like people. Think I’m a wrestler through and through, but it’s not really like that. I kind of just developed my main game to suit that because of my like my body type and it’s also the safest way to play. What do you? What do you think it’ll take for Canadian MMA to really like blossom and become huge? I mean you see like if you look at the UFC roster, it’s all pretty much Americans and Brazilians, and now even Russians. What do you think it’ll take for Canada to really become a global powerhouse in MMA? Now that George is retired, it seems like there’s not as many Canadian figures in the sport yeah. I feel it’s just like our population size is so small man compared to these other countries. You know so it’s kind of it’s Ardea, we’re already added a little bit of a disadvantage to compete, and if you look at like the viewership numbers, I remember talking to somebody who works for TSN and like fight replays, get less views than curling. You don’t. I mean like jokes, it’s hard for anybody to really like there’s just no. I wish I knew what it was, but there’s just not a lot of interests for for fighting in Canada at the moment. You know what I mean it’s gon na have to take out like a big star like GSP or, like myself, you know to to really propel that sport. So I feel like I feel, like I got a personality. You know what I mean that could maybe bring Katie and I’m a back to the forefront, yeah, I’m hoping, then I think I think what we need now is just getting Canadians in and sign in the UFC, and they can really make an impact. Tristan Connelly, for example, had an incredible performance. Speaking of George, have you ever had a chance to work with him or even the guys at tries there? I know I’ve never really actually got a chance to really train that Tristar or work with anybody like that. As far as Canadian gyms, I’ve done some in Ontario and then I west and bank for the villages where I was just training they’re, actually what being from Toronto are being from from Ontario. What was it like when the Raptors won last year? I was in Halifax and it was crazy here. I can’t imagine it was like there yeah, it was actually. It was really cool to see like the whole playoff series, how it went because it was like they were shutting down like like, where I’m from Windsor they’re. Shutting down like the downtown square and putting up big projectors for people to come, watch the games, so it was just cool to see like like the people come together. You know what I mean to support their country because that’s basically what was it was like. A Canada versus us thing being that it’s the only Canadian basketball team that you can support right, so it turned into more of a Canada versus us and it was uh. It was just. It was awesome to see that you know yeah. It was crazy and Halifax. I mean it almost seemed like it. Canada won something not just the City of Toronto was. It was absolutely absolutely chaos. We’Ve got a big big card coming up this weekend, so I’m gon na ask you just sticking with your division. Man. What’S uh, what’s your prediction for the Holloway Volken oski flight? Honestly, it’s hard to tell like max it. Hallways interviews have been kind of weird. You know what I mean honestly. I feel like always a camp. It’S like what’s holding him back almost you know what I mean like. The guy does not have like adequate training partners to be fighting at the level he’s fighting at, like. I guess some people like having a smaller tight-knit team, but you still need the bodies to come in and get the work like. Maybe I’m wrong – maybe I don’t even know what’s going on as camp but based on what you see on the like, based on what you can see from the outside, he doesn’t really have the bodies to make it happen so and Vulcan off skis just he’s a Conditioning wise he’s a tear, you know what I mean yeah, he can just keep coming forward. His fight with Chad, Mendes was amazing, know he was able to get dropped, come for and it’s just uh he’s a really good fight. Iq to you know, you’ll, never see him waste a step or waste a punch or ways to take down. You know I mean he makes everything count for something and it’s always building to something like the leg kicks and stuff, and it’s just like that’s another thing too. I seen one of hallways interviews was, like all the leg, kicks weren’t, even affecting me pretty sure they were. You know I mean like it was pretty evident. You know so it’s like when you have someone in such denial, like that it’s kind of hard to believe that they’re gon na change anything for this fight. You know, and that main event. Oh, I think this is crazier than the first fight, Jorge Maas made all on six days, notice steps up fighting a komaru. What’S your prediction for that, I think Khmer Rouge means such a specimen and he just like he so big for that division. So strong that he’s probably I think, he’s just gon na ragdoll massive it all, but Madison also presents some different skill set than what he was looking to face like I thought. Gilbert Burns was more dangerous because of how high-caliber his grappling is. You know, and I mean people really underestimate, how good Gilbert Burns grappling is, but he’s a world champion grappler. You know so he’s he’s a not just a good grappler from me, but he’s a good grappler for like worldwide talent. You know – and he can also he’s picked up his striking game – he’s fast he’s on out the thinking’s with Kilburn’s the most dangerous thing about him is that he’s been super active. So when I fighters been super active, you know what I mean it takes away. The jitters it takes away like any like ring Ross is definitely real. You know what I mean I feel like the more often I fight the better. Actually so it’s just uh, I feel like Gilbert Burns is a harder fight, but mastered all presents kind of more of questionable. Like oh, what’s he gon na throw you know what I mean he does hit hard, but he’s too small, I think, he’s still like he’s still a 155 kind of guy. You know what I mean like he’s, not a 170 that comes in shredded, ripped and big. You know he comes in a little bit soft. He doesn’t like he’s not a osomon or Kobe. Well, actually, Kobe’s pretty small too, but he’s not like a Guzman or like say a wonder boy. You know what I mean you look at those guys and those guys are 170 s right, they’re, huge and yeah. I just don’t think he has the size or the strength or skill set, really to pull it off against Guzman and then now I’ll ask a couple. More questions and I’ll, let you go back to your ubereats, so uh. What can we expect from you on August August 11th for non Canadian MMA fans? What can we expect from TJ Laramie on August 11th? Well, I honestly feel like this. Matchup was tailor-made for me to to really show the world what I can do, I’m gon na be able to expose this guy. Basically, wherever I want, I don’t feel like he’s supposed to be a grappler, but I don’t feel I’ve never once in my career, felt in danger on the ground by anybody. I’Ve had a black ball on my back for about a minute and if I didn’t feel in danger, you know what I mean kind of just wrote out the round. I was like I’ve never lost who got a high grappler in a fight I’ve. Never I’ve! Never really even been taken down unless I was going for a guillotine. You know what I mean to reverse the position or something like that. So it’ll be interesting to see like I’ve trained with good wrestlers, but I’ve trained with, like good grab grabbers all the time. You know what I mean like there’s just nothing. This guy can really present to me that I feel like it puts me in danger. My skill set like everything he does. I do a lot better, you know, so I just feel like I’ll, be able to put on a super exciting performance very similar to my last one. He’S gon na come out he’s 29 years old he’s a little bit weathered. You know he. This is his last shot. If he doesn’t make it now, he might not make it you know. So I expect him to come out, like guns, blazing really trying to hurt me, but that’s fine. You know what I mean it’s nothing I haven’t seen before it’s uh not like. I haven’t fought guys that are faster before I beat Jordan. You know I mean it’s pretty easy to shut people like that down and I feel, like I’m gon na, be able to do that. You’Re you’re one month away, you’re already in Vegas. What do you do to make sure you do not get Cove at 19? Ahead of this fight, I definitely won’t be going into too many public places, especially low mass. This is my first time in the US, since everything so it’ll be interesting, but I’m definitely gon na stick to the training the UFC p.i stuff like that. So I don’t feel like, like I’m, not watching much of a person to go out and try to like enjoy things, because my mind is always done the fight regardless. So it’s kind of hard to relax. It’S just gon na be basically Full Tilt for the next five weeks. All right man wishing you all the best, Canada’s behind you and wishing you all the best next next month, man stay safe, don’t catch anything and and we’ll see you out there on on August 11th, thanks man, I appreciate it.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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