Bellator MMA prospect Kyle Crutchmer has become used to opponent changes, discusses what it’s like having Daniel Cormier as a mentor.
Kyle Crutchmer will take on
Antonio Jones at Bellator 233. It goes down Friday, November 8 at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Crutchmer will be making his promotional debut and takes on a ten fight veteran. Or he would have. Cageside Press caught up with Crutchmer just prior to Jones being replaced by Gidron (4-3), who will also be making his promotional debut Friday night.
Jones was the third opponent that was lined up for Crutchmer’s debut. This issue is not just isolated to his run with Bellator MMA. In fact, Crutchmer is sadly quite used to this. He told us ahead of the fight that “since I’ve been fighting I’ve had this happen pretty much every fight. My very first fight I had like eight opponent switches. The guy that I fought, it ended up being the day before. I had to bump up to 187lbs to fight him. I’m kind of used to it by now. It can be kind of a pain in the ass. I’m just excited, man.”
No surprise, then that it has happened once again.
Crutchmer was facing a more seasoned fighter with almost twice the pro experience. Asked about the experience of Jones, through the lens of if he perceives his opponent as a solid challenge for his debut, Crutchmer said, “Yeah he has ten fights and that can be whatever you take it as. I spar three days a week for the past two and a half years. I really truly don’t look at that too much. We just get prepared to go.”
Crutchmer has had invaluable advice on a technique and mindset level from having Daniel Cormier as a mentor. Having DC such a key part in his life, in-competition and outside of it, is something Kyle Crutchmer does not take for granted. He stated, “It’s pretty much having the best fighter of all time as your big brother. He succeeds in every aspect of the MMA world and outside the MMA world. I wouldn’t ask to have anybody else be there for me. That’s my big bro there.”
The training history of Crutchmer has featured a myriad of great wrestlers even beyond DC. Crutchmer quipped, “I’m resilient when I’m working out. I’m used to a hard grind. I wrestled for the greatest wrestler of all time John Smith.” Wrestling did not come easy for him right away. In fact, Crutchmer only won a single time in his initial season. He recalls a distinct moment where everything began to take a turn for the better.
Crutchmer stated, “I actually remember this. The day everything started clicking. I ended up winning a state tournament in Oklahoma. My dad was just very consistent. He had people helping me at all times. Ever since then it kind of just all started clicking. ” MMA got on Crutchmer’s radar during a time where he was acting out while still immersed in his wrestling efforts. It all seemed like a perfect storm.
“I got in a lot of street fights growing up,” recalled Crutchmer. “I was kind of one of those kids if you had a problem with one of my friends, I’d just fight you. Really when I started wanting to do it, I was watching Johny Hendricks in high school. We had a bunch of my buddies over and they were all like ‘man, you should do this’. For the next five or six years, I kind of just started really enjoying it.”
A lot has changed for Crutchmer since watching Johny Hendricks fight alongside his teammates. Nowadays Cruchmer is training at American Kickboxing Academy with champions and rising contenders from various weight divisions across multiple promotions.
“I was sparring with Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Islam [Makhachev]. I went from them to Ed Ruth. Then I had another Russian kickboxer I’ve been sparring with,” he stated. “There’s only one way to get better and that’s fight the best dudes in the world. I’m a lot more confident than I was. I’ve learned a lot and now I know what I’m capable of doing.”
Much like his early wrestling days, his nascent moments as a mixed martial artist didn’t exactly go super smoothly. There was a definite learning curve in place and a level of frustration that invariably would come with this type of transition.
Crutchmer quipped, “I got so good at the sport of wrestling that it just kind of hit me that I had to start over in a way. It was just frustrating at first. The confidence comes from Daniel Cormier winning big fights and how he has the same coaches I have.”
The wrestling days also lead Kyle Crutchmer to not listen to music before fights. As a college freshman warming up, a coach ripped out his headphones. He thought Crutchmer needed to hear the crowd and get ready. This is a ritual that Kyle does to this day and the ritual continues this Friday when Kyle Cruchmer takes on Antonio Jones at Bellator 233.
Kyle Crutchmer vs. Robert Gidron takes place Friday, November 8 as part of the Bellator 233 preliminary card, which can be viewed starting at 6:45PM ET on the Bellator App, and right here on Cageside Press.