Everyone watching the July 30th episode of Dana White’s Contender Series remembers the flying knee that immediately had Dana gesturing a contract signing.
That knee helped deliver a UFC contract to featherweight prospect Aalon Cruz from Tampa, Florida. Cruz (8-2-0) landed the move against his formidable opponent Steven “Ninja” Nguyen (6-1-1) at 4:46 of round 3. Cruz spoke about feeling the tension in the cage in the third round and said he knew he had to throw something hard to show he was trying to finish the fight.
Fighting out of the DEFWAR MMA gym, the 29-year-old won his last three fights before his Contender Series bout; two by finish and one by decision. Beginning wrestling in high school and later turning to martial arts to stay in shape, Cruz admits he dropped out of college after a little over a year and started MMA full-time.
“Luckily it’s all paid off now”, he said. The self-admitted homebody describes his experience with the UFC as ”great” and said he had “a blast”. Explaining that fighters usually need to concentrate on paying for medical bills and other things like setting up travel before a fight, Cruz said the UFC took charge of everything and he didn’t have to think much about anything else other than the fight.
When describing the moment he got the call from his manager about the Contender Series bout, the featherweight explained he was “stoked.” But said signing the contract, “was the epitome of everything,” and tops his list of things that have happened to him.
Cruz is without a doubt UFC’s newest star featherweight prospect. The Florida boy is ready to make his debut under brighter lights.
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The Scrap’s Caroline Romero is a journalism graduate and has 3 children involved in combat sport. Make sure to follow her son Simon Romero on his Behind The Grind podcast on YouTube.