From staving off schoolyard bullies to fighting in UFC, Pat Sabatini ready for final step

Pat Sabatini didn’t mean to be a professional fighter – he originally started training martial arts for a much simpler reason.

“My parents actually got me involved in martial arts when I was 5,” Sabatini told MMA Junkie. “Had the classic elementary school bully and got involved in karate and whatnot.”

Sabatini was a natural fit, and he made a rapid progression in hew newfound passion.

“I got involved in jiu-jitsu at 8, picked up wrestling along the way, and then at 17, I thought, ‘You know what? Let me try to throw this all together,’” Sabatini said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Putting it all together meant testing himself in an amateur MMA fight, one that required his parents to sign a waiver due to his age. While they were certainly concerned for their son, Sabatini’s parents trusted in the skills he has spent most of his life honing.

“They were both very nervous at first,” Sabatini admitted. “It was something different, but they supported me. They’ve been supporting me the whole way.”

Eleven years later, Sabatini (10-2) is the reigning CFFC featherweight champion. He takes on Brazilian Fabricio Oliveira (11-5-1) at Friday’s CFFC 74 event, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Etess Arena in Atlantic City, N.J.

Sabatini admits he doesn’t know a whole lot about his opponent but believes that’s not an issue, either.

“More and more I’m learning thats it’s not really about what that guy brings to the table,” Sabatini said. “It’s about myself and being the best self I can possibly be in there and adapting to whatever he throws at me. I’ve been focused on myself, and whatever he brings to me, I’ll be ready for.”

Sabatini currently stands at 8-1 in his past nine outings, with the lone loss in that run coming via split decision.

“That one is definitely one that haunts me because I took that fight on short notice, and I thought I could have done way, way better,” Sabatini said. “It was just an off night for me, and I really thought I won the fight, but you live and you learn.”

Seven of his 10 career wins have come by submission, making the grappling game a dangerous area in which to engage Sabatini. But he believes he’s skilled in all aspects of the sport – skilled enough for the UFC, in fact.

“I feel ready mentally, physically, emotionally – I’m in tune,” Sabatini said. “I’m definitely interested in going to the next level, and my goal is to always go in there and hunt for that finish. This is a very big opportunity, and I will not let it slip away.”

Sabatini hopes his performance in Friday is enough to earn that UFC call, but if for any reason it’s not, he won’t be giving up the pursuit he began on the schoolyard.

“Ever since I had my first fight at age 17, my first amateur fight, it made me feel like nothing else ever made me feel, and to this day, nothing else has ever made me feel like this,” Sabatini said. “It’s just how I like to live, man. This is for me.”

For more on CFFC 74, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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