By Yvette R. Brisco
Once he was introduced to mixed martial arts at age 19, the Dominator never looked back. He has been on an amazing win streak, with his only professional loss coming in the form of a submission from none other than the California Kid, Urijah Faber. This Saturday, Dominick will seek to avenge his loss and defend his title as the UFC Bantamweight Champion at UFC 132.
Cruz is an elite level fighter who has the intestinal fortitude to do what must be done to succeed. He conducts a 12-week camp, training six days per week, multiple times per day. Three workouts on Mondays, two on Tuesdays through Fridays, and one on Saturdays is what it costs Cruz to get his body and skills prepared for the big fight. With his wrestling background, he doesn’t sit on his laurels, and he mixes his training to cover Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing, boxing, wrestling, and more. Muscle failure day is every day and still he stays focused and determined, all leading to now. Cruz said, “My body is as ready as it’s going to be. I’m ready in every aspect.”
Now, it’s all about having the right mindset. “It’s definitely 100 percent mental,” said Cruz. “Now it’s about the mental game, keeping your body where it needs to be and mentally staying strong through weight cut.” Motivation, focus, and composure are some of the main keys to mental preparation, and Dominick Cruz has these in spades. He has made fighting his life priority, and lets nothing get in his way. He knows he’s where many fighters want to be, and he plans to stay there. In addition, he has set high standards and amazing goals for himself.
Although he doesn’t like to look past his immediate opponent, he did admit to his professional heart’s desire. “I would have to say my biggest goal that I have set for myself right now for the future is to be ranked number one on the pound for pound list.” That will be the ultimate achievement for Cruz, and he pushes through the pain, soreness, and fatigue every day to reach his goals. All healed from his hand surgery, he gives it his all, and lays it all on the line because he loves it. “I love to compete,” said Cruz. “I love it when someone says I can’t do something. I love to prove people wrong and I love to see how far I can push myself and that’s what pushes me.”
Proving people wrong was a habit for Cruz early on in his career, as he faced many opponents and critics who underestimated him. It wasn’t until he had reached a fairly large measure of success that people stopped making those assumptions about him, but he certainly didn’t mind. “Prior to me being in the top 10 I would say definitely I was looked past a lot. That’s okay with me. It fuels my fire.”
He has a great deal of respect for some of the fighters who have paved the way for his generation. One of his MMA heroes is Yves Edwards. He would watch him in awe, thinking how much he wished he could kickbox like him. Chuck Liddell is another fighter who commanded his respect. He was impressed by the way he used wrestling even though he was predominantly a striker. Although now retired, Cruz believes that Randy Couture can continue to positively impact the sport as an ambassador, and even better as a person to improve the judging in the sport. “I believe Randy is the type of person that would give back to the sport and figure out a way to make it stronger for everybody else,” said Cruz.
Cruz appreciates all of the opportunities he has been afforded as a professional MMA fighter, and he sees a very bright future for the sport. When asked about female fighters, and whether or not we will ever see them in the UFC, he took a never say never approach. “In the past, they said there would never be 135 and 145 lb weight classes in the UFC and here we are. I would never count it out.” He believes women are as tough as the men, but he wouldn’t want to step in the cage with them.
The Dominator’s first UFC fight will showcase how dedicated he is to his profession. Although many expect him to alter his game plan as he prepares to face Faber again, Cruz said that’s not really the case, and that it is generally the same. “I go out there, feel my opponent out, make him uncomfortable, and make him adjust to my style, plain and simple.”
Will that work for him against Faber? Cruz seems to think so. He believes that he is the master of his own fate. “I go in there and fight my fight, keep them guessing, beat them up round by round, looking for the finish every second.” The two words Cruz used to define himself were confident and driven, and both were in evidence.
When asked about the pre-fight talk, Cruz said that he doesn’t engage is smack talk, but he does tell it like it is. “We are role models whether we like to believe it or not. Everything we do is being watched.” He said that although he and Faber have had a “thing” between them, he tries to maintain a respectful level of professionalism. According to Cruz, he speaks about the things he can control. He added:
The role model job is something Cruz takes very seriously. He offered three pieces of advice to the youth who are interested in MMA as a career. First, he suggested that they start out with wrestling. He said they should “stick to wrestling because in my opinion it’s the best base for an MMA fight.” He second bit of advice was to was to remain open to suggestions and never believe you’re too good to listen to the guys who have that experience and knowledge. “You should always be able to have an open mindset that you can learn something from everybody around you. You’re never too good for that.”
The last point that The Dominator wanted to make to the youth was to treat fighting like a profession from the very beginning. “When you take your first fight, focus on the business end of things as well as the fighting end of things,” he said. He indicated that he hadn’t promoted himself well at the start of his career, and he has had to make up for that. He advises kids starting today to get it right the first time around.
Although Cruz is very focused on the upcoming fight, he did take a few moments to speak about his personal life. Dom loves sports, and when not in training camp, can often be found on the basketball court in a pickup game, out in the ocean surfing the waves, or out camping with friends. As much as he enjoys being in the great outdoors, he can also be a homebody. According to Dominick, “If I’m not out being active, I’m at home chillin’ in bed, watching movies and just relaxing.” What’s the most recent movie he saw? X-Men: First Class! That’s right. He loves everything X-Men, as well as the other movies based on the Marvel Comic franchise.
Movies isn’t the only thing he does at home. He loves listening to rap and hip hop music, or just hanging with his two Bengal cats Marley and Tigger. Both are half Asian Leopard and a little wild, but he says, “They are my homies and I’m just kicking it with them.” Although he does see a red Doberman Pinscher in his future, for now it’s just the three of them.
When asked about a special someone in his life, Dominick insisted that there was no one he was currently dating. What kind of woman is he most attracted to? One that possesses the same characteristics he does, namely confidence and drive. He said his dream woman is “very confident in herself, knows who she is, and knows what she has.”
Another prerequisite was that she be constantly working to improve herself and sets goals for herself that she is always working toward. Sound familiar? “That’s the type of person I want to be around because then they’ll push me to be better,” said Dominick. He said she must have a career so she can understand his total commitment to his. There may not be a Mrs. Dominator until sometime in the future, because it will have to be someone who can live with the sacrifices he has to make in his chosen career.
So Ladies, although the champion is single, he definitely knows what he wants and what he’s willing to do to get it. With a great laugh and a great personality, I’m sure there are plenty of women willing to apply for that position, all of whom will be watching Saturday night when he steps into the Octagon. He was appreciative of his fans and wanted to thank them for being supportive of him. He said, I’m going to go out there and get this win. We’re going to win it together. For those who aren’t’ my fans, you will be after this fight.” Fans can follow him on his Twitter page, @thedomin8r, or check out his website at www.DominickCruz.com.
*Thanks to Contributor, Yvette R. Brisco!
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