TJ Laramie fights Darrick Minner on Saturday, September 19. The featherweight bout goes down at UFC Vegas 11, a stacked card with Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley headlining. Laramie will make his UFC debut here after a first-round finish of Daniel Swain in his Contender Series fight. The former TKO and PFC featherweight champion seems poised ahead of his role as UFC debutant.
We caught up with Laramie ahead of the bout — below are some excerpts from my conversation with the Canadian featherweight ahead of this consequential career moment.
The quick turnaround here and similarities to his last opponent
“I obviously didn’t expect to fight again, the match-up was really good and super similar to like the last guy I fought. So I took the match, it just worked out. I felt I already just trained for this guy for like eight weeks almost.”
“The two weeks off actually was pretty good for my body and stuff, more mental than anything. I was able to get some good training in Manitoba. And then I came right back to Vegas. Just straight back to business. Get this fight out of the way and get my UFC debut done.”
“They both have a lot of submissions off their back, especially in the first round. Both quick starters. They’re both kind of guys that live by the sword, die by the sword. If they don’t get their move or if they don’t get their thing right away, they usually kind of fold up. Win or lose they’re not really going to the scorecards.”
“So like when I fought Swain, I think his last seven wins were by submission. I think total he had like 12 submission wins. Most of them in the first round. I think Minner has like 17 or 18 submissions. Mostly in the first round, but with Minner he’s a little bit smaller. So he throws a little more heat with his hands. So it’s a little bit different but for the most part, it’s a very similar match-up.”
Laramie vs Minner
The whole Contender Series experience and benefits from already competing in a no fans kind of dynamic
“It was awesome. Obviously fighting at a higher level is more motivating for me. I’ve never been the kind of guy to take a super easy fight. For me, it’s always been really hard to train for super easy fights. Just because the motivation factor you know. I feel like if the level of competition goes up, so does my training and my skill level. So it brings the best out of me.”
“It was just beneficial. I felt like you got a good version of me. Although I had a lot of anxiety in that fight. I had a lot of nerves obviously because of the stage and it was weird fighting without a crowd. A lot of people say, ‘Oh, you know, maybe it’s more beneficial’ but for me, I felt like crowds helped me more than they don’t, you know. If anything I can kind of zone out when there’s a crowd there drowns out some of that.”
“The dead silence is creepy as hell. Especially if you can hear everything the other corner is saying. It’s just a totally different experience. I’ve never experienced that in my whole pro career, even amateur career, there’s been louder venues. It was different. I feel like having that experience so soon before this fight, is going to pay off and is going to be beneficial for me coming into this one on the 19th.”
Haircuts and Biochemistry
Being a barber and getting back to cutting hair recently
“I bought a clippers set here. So I can start doing haircuts a little bit more you know. Just for me it’s kind of like almost like an escape a little bit. It’s like you’re just training all day and even when you’re waiting around, you’re just waiting to train again. It kind of gets mentally draining a little bit. So for me, cutting hair is kind of another thing I love to do. It’s another hobby of mine.”
What TJ Laramie learned about his biochemistry at the UFC PI
“Well they did like a body scan, and all that stuff, and I learned that I’m like jacked. Super super jacked. But no seriously though. They gave me a lot of good insight on diet and all that stuff. Especially, what we can do in the future. Obviously we don’t have a lot of time for this training camp to make any drastic changes. For the future you know they told me a lot of stuff that we’re going to be able to do and I’m very excited for that.”
Bantamweight and Gripping Food with Force
A possible cut to bantamweight in the future
“You never know. Honestly, I would like to drop the weight. Especially lately how my training camp’s been going. The weight has been coming off a lot easier. My weight management in between fights has been a lot better. A lot more professional when it comes to that. It’s everything in moderation.”
“This is a job now for me. I can focus a little time on it. And it’s something that I really have to watch myself on. I’m getting paid to do it, you know what I mean? So it’s a little bit more motivating now to me to stay on track. It just makes the whole process a lot easier at the end of the day. Rather than trying to do everything at the last second. Which I’ve been doing in the past sometimes.”
Being a fan of “Gripping Food with Force” and the food he’d grip with force in a post-fight celebration
“A food I would grip with force? (laughs) I don’t even know. Probably ice cream or something like that. That’s so funny.”
To listen to my full conversation with TJ Laramie, check out the link provided.
UFC Vegas 11 takes place this Saturday, September 19 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event airs live on ESPN+ (TSN in Canada).