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Pat Sabatini warms up backstage during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Pat Sabatini Is Prepared To Overcome The Storm

Pat Sabatini Has His Sights Set On Notching A Win At UFC Fight Night: Vieira vs Tate And Improving To 3-0 In His Rookie UFC Campaign.

There is something blue-collar, something real workmanlike about Pat Sabatini that comes across whenever you speak with the emerging UFC featherweight.

Successful in each of his first two trips into the Octagon this year and preparing to make the walk for a third time this weekend opposite Tucker Lutz, the newly turned 31-year-old has little time for what has already transpired, because he’s so fixated on continuing to improve and acing the next assignment.

“If I’m not going in there and dominating every aspect of the fight, there is more work to be done, and I’m not going to be satisfied with the performance,” began Sabatini, reflecting on his first-round submission win over Jamall Emmers in August.

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The fight lasted less than two minutes, but was filled with action, as Emmers clipped Sabatini with a short right hand in tight and then put him on the deck with a left hand seconds later, putting the UFC sophomore in a bad position. Emmers chased him to the canvas, paused momentarily in side control, and then climbed right into mount, attacking a choke in the transition as he looked to get Sabatini out of there in under a minute.

But the former CFFC champion defended well and shook off the cobwebs, turning a half-guard sweep into a submission attempt, latching onto a heel hook that prompted Emmers to verbally submit.

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“It’s a situation where I take the good and the bad together. I definitely never want to get caught, obviously, but at the same time, I have to be happy that I was able to recover, let the training just take over, and get that finish.

Pat Sabatini aplica queda em Tristan Connelly no UFC 261.

Pat Sabatini takes down Tristan Connelly of Canada during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

“In this sport, it’s always about overcoming adversity, inside and outside of the cage,” he added. “You’ve got to overcome the storm, because otherwise you’re not really a fighter.”

And the emerging featherweight knows a thing or two about navigating adversity, having suffered a nasty arm injury early last year, right when it seemed like he was poised to get the call to the Octagon.

He recovered from the gnarly injury, won two fights, reclaiming his CFFC featherweight title, and made the jump to the UFC, officially debuting with a victory over Tristan Connelly in April after his initial bout with Rafael Alves in February was scrapped the day before the event when the Brazilian missed the lightweight limit for the featherweight affair.

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Having reached the biggest stage and kicked off his tenure by earning a pair of quality wins, including a gutsy finish, Sabatini has plenty to be proud of and every reason to celebrate what has already been a successful rookie campaign inside the UFC cage, but that’s just not the way he’s wired.

“I do take time to appreciate the moment, but I don’t hold onto it for too long,” admitted Sabatini, who trains alongside rising star Sean Brady under the direction of coaches Daniel Gracie, John Marquez, and Erik Purcell. “I appreciate it, but then I let it go because there is more to be done, more goals on the horizon.

“I can’t focus on what’s already happened for too long, otherwise I won’t be prepared for the future. It is nice to see things coming out the way they have because it gives me more motivation heading into the future.”

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While he’s very much a “go to work, get the job done, and then come home” kind of guy, that doesn’t mean that Sabatini isn’t analytical in his approach to his craft and making progress in the talent-rich featherweight division.

Pat Sabatini reacts after defeating Tristan Connelly in their featherweight bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Pat Sabatini reacts after defeating Tristan Connelly in their featherweight bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

When he beat Connelly in April, Sabatini arrived at his post-fight media availability and declared he was happy to get the first one out of the way, so that he could move on from the nerves and excitement of reaching the highest level in the sport and start focusing exclusively on sharpening the weapons he carries with him into battle and adjusting to competing against the best in the world.

“No. 2 was definitely one of the weirder fights to me because it didn’t have the same feel as a normal fight; everything happened so fast,” recalled Sabatini. “That being said, I’m definitely getting more comfortable and acclimated to fighting in the UFC, the whole procedure and process of fight week, and to get in there with a great opponent like Jamall Emmers is definitely something that is going to help my game moving forward.

“It’s just about believing in myself, getting more comfortable, and opening up my skill set more each time I get in there.

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“That was my first time fighting in Vegas, so it was a new experience traveling out there,” continued the Pennsylvania native, who made his debut in Jacksonville, Florida at UFC 261 and fought exclusively on the East Coast prior to joining the UFC roster. “It was definitely different not having as many fans as the first time, too; it was a lot quieter in there. Each time is a new experience.”

This weekend, he’ll fight in Vegas for the second time, taking on Lutz, a Dana White’s Contender Series alum that pushed his winning streak to an even dozen with a victory over durable veteran Kevin Aguilar in his promotional debut in May.

Sabatini admitted to knowing Lutz’s name from the Maryland native’s days fighting somewhat locally, but he’d never seen him fight before sitting down to prep for Saturday’s contest. While he’s quick to recognize the weapons and tools his opponent will bring to the table this weekend, Sabatini knows what he needs to do in order to get his hand raised.

Pat Sabatini Post-Fight Interview | UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze
Pat Sabatini Post-Fight Interview | UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Chikadze

“He fought on a circuit relatively local to me, Shogun Fights, but I hadn’t really seen him fight until viewing his tapes and getting ready for this fight.

“He’s well-rounded, he’s tough, gritty, and he’s got a lot of experience,” he said of Lutz. “He brings a well-rounded game to the table, but I’ve got to go in there and beat him at every aspect of it.”

And if he does, Sabatini will cap his rookie year with a third straight victory, earning himself a belated birthday present and another reason to celebrate once he’s done handling his business on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

“It would mean the absolute world to me,” Sabatini said of collecting a third victory to close out his rookie campaign inside the UFC cage. “I’ve been working so hard for it and haven’t thought one day past the 20th, and that will be my focus until I get the job done.”