Ep. #14 – Aalon Cruz

Aalon Cruz is a mixed martial artist who competes in the UFC Featherweight division. He was a participant on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series where he earned a UFC contract with a devastating flying knee knockout.


Aalon Cruz: It’S a lot of a lot of videogames, a lot of gaming online microphone. Just you know, trying to work out my parking lot and and just can’t chill at the house and my dogs. I haven’t really been doing a whole ton. You know listening to the news and finding out the updates with the UFC and, what’s going on now that you know it seems that you know all the events are being postponed now for the moment until fight island is ready to go. You know I’m trying to just get in shape just get as best shape as I can. You know what I have and just be right. You know for when Dan calls – and you know I was ready to put the fight on. Where are you right now like in in relation to the world? Are you uh, you’re, obviously home I’m in Canada, for example, you in Tampa or yeah Tampa Florida yeah know what what sorts of rules and regulations do they have there like here, I’m not allowed to even leave the house really. Oh really, though, can you find unless I’m going to the grocery store yeah? That sort of rules are you, you know, and it’s pretty lean in here like I can leave the house anyhow I want to, I can go to the park. I can go to the grocery store. I can go to any stores that are open like Home Depot. You can go picked up, you know food from Chipotle or McDonald’s or wherever you want to go, there’s really no like nobody’s. You know gon na find you for being out. There’S no curfew, it’s pretty it’s pretty loose here. It’S not like, like lockdown like you have, or I think California is pretty strict and then I know New York’s pretty strict, but Florida is pretty lenient. As far as the rest of the North America is concerned, so it’s pretty good in terms of being able to get out and train. You can go for runs things like that. Do you have a set up at your house as well, or you can get some work in? Obviously you don’t have access to your coaches or anything like that, but right yeah. No, I I’ve actually been to a lot of workouts with my girlfriend and our PI out of an apartment complex and in our parking lot. I’Ve had her holding mitts for me. We we just started doing so. I went to my CrossFit gym where I train at, and I rented so my CrossFit gym they’re renting out equipment for people if they want to do homework, that’s out there at their house. So I got a few kettlebells. I got a wall ball. Slam ball a big old 50 pound dumbbell and I had my strength conditioning coach put together workouts for me to do every day and he knows the exact equipment I have so I’ve been doing those every single day. Like I said, I have my girlfriend hole miss for me. I have these two strike mask pads that go on the telephone pole, so that kind of acts as my heavy bag for the moment so I’ll hit that you know some some point during the day. No anything I’m not really getting in right now is is wrestling and jiu-jitsu because she’s not like that she’s, not like the most she’s kind of dainty. So you know I can’t really do two dudes here wrestling with her, but you know she can hold mitts. For me and drill with me, as for a I mean, pray for your next fight, is there? Is there a timeline you’re looking at? Obviously, you don’t have access to that coaches and, like you said wrestling and jiu-jitsu, are you looking to wait it out and get a good proper training camp in or you just you know if the call comes you’re ready to go yeah I mean I think now That the way that it’s looking cuz it seems like we might be stuck like this for a while. No, I might just try and get in this. You know good shape as possible. You know just doing what I’m doing and then you know I’m have to go up. I’M have to go up away class, I don’t know if I can make 145, you know with the amount of training that I’m doing he’d be really tough. Like you know like I am a big 45 and then I would just have to do you know. I do know how to fight like. So as the thing is like I was talking about this with somebody else online, and he was saying you know, don’t you have the knowledge, it’s a truck like to fighting someone told me to fight tomorrow. I could fight like I don’t I wouldn’t have to like he’s like I’m gon na forget everything I you know know how to do like. I would be able to go in there to myself. You know come out with a win. If I could know, then that would be there would be his weight cut and your conditioning obviously wouldn’t be there. So that may be the biggest thing would be working on conditioning and then working on. You know just a weight cut which obviously I’m not gon na cut thirty thirty plus pounds to get to 45 I’d, rather just go up to 55 and cut 25 or so so put my timeline. My timeline would be. I had planned. I told my agent like right after my fight. I wanted to fight immediately like I’d watched. It seems like immediately me, but I told him end of May June or July at this moment, being in a little less than halfway through April, I’d probably say June or July would still be viable for me. You know I just wouldn’t be it like peak tip-top shape because I’m not like I said, I’m not wrestling know I would he get in shape for wrestling is to wrestle. You know it’s anything for jiu-jitsu jiu-jitsu. You can kind of like get by. You know you can rest in spots, it’s kind of easy to take. You know some some rest off, but wrestling’s, probably the hardest thing yeah, because your last fight was on February 29th against Spike. Looking back, would you have taken that fight because he he stepped in on short notice right yeah, I mean it’s. I wouldn’t even consider that short notice, because I mean it was. It was like five weeks notice which to me in my pro career, is not short notice. I’Ve taken fights, you know shorter than that, but you know what’s funny is I would have taken the fight anyway. I had to be honest. Personally, I thought it was a more dangerous fight, so we had to win a choice of two people: either we would fight spike or Derek minner, and you know who did who found that card the same night yeah and my agent and my head coach. They both agreed that they thought spike was, you know the better fight to take, and you know I thought he was a little more dangerous. You know because he has that natural knockout power leaves 8:1 and he’s. I lost a split decision, but uh. You know we were going, I guess there we were going off base off his last couple, fights how he looked as far as his striking. Like you noticed. You know he was getting tore up. You know most in those first rounds, but he ended them both with knockouts. You know you, you know you, you could actually chose their men and America submitted me in the first round or knock me out. You know I’m saying so it really doesn’t matter. You know who I chose it. Really. It really was just a bunch of things that were going on that I just wasn’t there mentally or maybe even multi-state. I would just say mentally to be honest, like I could have won I’d, say nine times out of ten. You throw me in there with spike and I wear his aura. Is there a name, that’s coming to mind for your next fight, or is it just whoever whoever the UFC offers? No, I mean if I had one you know I would have names. You know I mean, like I thought if let’s say I had one again spike right in like a impressive fashion, I probably would have sent like Alice casseras or I don’t know somebody who’s. You know someone who has an arrow or I might have asked for Steven Peterson. You know because we didn’t get to do it and then, if I was coming off a win, I couldn’t call him or I couldn’t you know taking that fight or ask for it. I guess, but now coming off a loss, I don’t really have a lot of play, a lot of power to really like say, like hey Steven like, let’s still do it, I want to fight you. You know I mean so I I guess I’m kind of just it’s gon na be whoever the UFC thinks I should fight. I don’t really have any any specific names that are out there. What was it like? I mean. Obviously, you won the your fight to get into the UFC to get the contract and probably the most devastating style. I’Ve I’ve seen on the show, what what was it like to? Finally, get that call you know to get the contract in your hand, must have been like sense of relief. What? What exactly was that feeling like yeah man? It was. It was amazing because you know just like it was like validation. You know I’ve been a pro for since 2013, so about seven years or so there’s a wall I mean I’ve only had ten fights well now eleven. But up to that point I had only had nine fights as a pro and you know just seemed like a long road and I’ve been training. Since I was 16 and I’m 30 now and I it was like kind of a last shot like it was like. You know a lot of, I was on a three fight win streak and, if I had lost, I probably would have been done because you know trying to put together another three or four or five win streak would have been a long time. You know, and that was the big shot. I was in front of the bosses and in front of Dana and Shaun and Mick, and it really just felt, like I said like validated like I’m supposed to be here, like you know, I finally made it to my end goal. Well, not my end goal. It said one of my big goals to make it to UFC. I stood angle B to be the champion, but once I made it that was that was pretty much the biggest feeling I had was validation. What so yeah. So you said you want to be champion. So, let’s, let’s stick with the champions here like what are you? What’S your prediction for khabib and now potentially Tony, if that fight were to happen, what’s your, what’s your your take on it man, that’s that’s! That’S the fight that I don’t think we’ll ever get to be honest, ittsan scheduled what and I just I don’t know if that’s it. This is such a good fight like I feel like it needs to happen like I don’t care if they’re about to retire and they’re, both you know on like a six fight losing streak and they’re about to be kicked out of the UFC. I still need to see that fight. I think we’ve all you know deserve to see that fight by now, because I mean where else can I mean you have to wait, let’s say could be lose his next fight. Now now we lose that sheen off that fight right or if could earth Tony fights um, and then we lose the sheen off the fight because he lost like you, have two guys that are at the at their peak right now, Tony’s on its wall fight win Streak khabib undefeated, it’s just kind of its kind of sucks. To be honest, I mean it just sucks that you know we had a pandemic come through and stop the fifth the fifth chance at making this fight happen. Yeah it. It almost has like a Pacquiao Mayweather feel where you know they were supposed to fight so many times. Everyone was talking about everybody wanted to see it and then, when it finally happened they were four or five years out of their prime and I feel like we’re. Gon na get the fight, it’s just gon na be way past its prime and it’s not gon na have the same value and as for the featherweight division, obviously volcán oski just beat hallway in a rematch. Do you think it plays out the same way or do you see it differently? Man, Volken oski, he’s a he’s. A little trained like he’s, he’s like a little bull and he’s got very high-level striking. You know even for a short guy, but things like max Holly. Doesn’T have long along breech right he’s got short arms and Vulcan auskey. I think so. You know the good. The thing that max is really good at is keeping his range in his distance. Even though yeah short arms, he uses his height to his advantage and he does have long legs. So I think in a rematch I think max, I’m gon na say he’ll learn. Well he what he what mistakes he made from the last fight. I don’t think he did, he fought like he normally would, or he just wasn’t able to adapt to you know whatever Vulcan offski was was doing. You know, like every time Max was broken off. He would throw a combo max a counter and then Vulcan Oski would recount her. He wasn’t. He wasn’t able to counter back on Vulcan Ozzy’s counters. He just it was just the night. You know that max just wasn’t there or either that or Vulcan oski was just on point. That night, you know was his night and he looked phenomenal and I think in a rematch I think it’d be a completely different fight. I think I think max probably on the he’s not gon na put him away, but I think he definitely out points Vokoun asking a rematch yeah. I think yeah, I think very similar. I didn’t think it was the best max we’ve ever seen and I think Dustin Poirier kind of laid a blueprint to how to how to beat him. You got ta outbox him and not get tired right. I thought that was a yeah, so that I think I think Dustin Poirier said that the blueprint back to to your your career. What what? What sort of changes are you gon na make for your next fight? Like I think you know the fight you lost to spike, I think it was. He started swinging crazy right out of the gate. Do you think you have to come like what find early start the fight earlier? Do you think you need to weather the storm? What sort of changes do you think you’re gon na have to make for the next fight to avoid a very similar result? Yeah. I definitely think I need to work on my aggression more, I should be like. I should be able to fight kind of like the Diaz brothers, but with a little but like a Diaz brothers, slash Conor right, because if you look at the way, Conor fights like people think that he’s like an aggressive fighter. He really isn’t he’s he’s. Like he’s a counter striker, but what he does is he imposes pressure on you and then, as soon as you decide to strike on him or come forward to him, he slips back and then he hits you right and then and he’s just a he’s. Just a very good counter, striker with very intense pressure, it makes it feel like he’s being aggressive on you, but he’s not. So I think if I can be like is I like. I, like Conor style, I like being technical, I’m not a wild fighter, I’m not even a huge output fire for that. Much like if you watch most of my fights, I’m not really throwing a lot like. I’M, not spamming, punch, I’m not like the Diaz brothers right. I’M not gon na throw two or three hundred punches in a fight for the most part, which you know. I probably could, because I know conditioning wise and when I’m training I throw a lot of punches. I think when it comes to the fight I try to take as little damage as possible, which most fights I don’t really get hit a lot so probably work on my aggression, man, it was just I mean it wasn’t like. I was doing anything bad against Pike. He definitely caught me with that that kick well. I never seventh seen him throw a head kick other than one other fight that I saw with him as an amateur in his fights. So when he ran forward – and I think he threw like two or three punches right – and I just slid back like I did the first couple times and then he threw that kick over the top actually had my hand. Look, you know we’re a boxing glove. It would have been blocked, but we’re learning for ounce gloves and it went right over the top. It hit me in my plan going into the fight even in the back rooms talking my wrestling coach. Our plan was not to shoot on Spike at all, like we weren’t gon na shoot like because he’s short it’s hard to take short guys down to get that low and put a lot of power on him. So if you notice, when he came at me in that final sequence, he rushed forward at me. I slid to the side. I hit him with a clean right hand and then I and then he threw a hook and I went right under the hook straight into a takedown and I think, maybe somewhere in my mom. In the back of my mind, my brain was like you know. He just kicked us in the face, like you know, he might be trying to get aggressive now because he knows it. He they caught me. So you know my mind at that moment was like takedown. You know right after that, which normally I wouldn’t do that. I came here last time. I’Ve actually shot a takedown on somebody in a fight other than Stephen win, but even when I wasn’t even really shooting, I was really just level changing just to make him back up off of me because he’s so aggressive coming forward. Like people thought those were actual takedown attempts and they really weren’t. I was just I do that in training all the time like. If people come forward, I’ll grab the ankle and literally just pull it out, and if you fall on the ground and you fall. If you don’t, I don’t really care. I was just getting you to back up off me, so I guess really you just I don’t know just tuning some things up. I just I really wasn’t there mentally. That was a big part of that wasn’t like I was in shape. You know there was no like like I could have gone three fives. You know easy, it’s really just a mental kill mode like I wasn’t. I wasn’t in the flow state I didn’t have like my killer mindset going. It was a really weird fine. I’Ve only had two times where I felt like that mentally and I those are my two pro losses. So I think, if you notice, on my record, whenever I lose, I don’t lose back. I’Ve never lost back-to-back and I think I’m gon na come back. I really feel bad for whoever about to fight next, because I’ve figured a lot of things out and if I do end up in that bad mental state that day how to get out of it or how to get me to where I need to be. I’Ve. Already talked to my coaches about this and my teammates, so I’m just excited for the next fight because I just like I said I’d people didn’t get to see the real me fighting the case. They saw an empty hollow, she’ll go out there and you know not. Do very well so is so for people who watch that fight. Is there a fight where you’d say? Look, that’s not me. This is the fight. You got a watch. Is it the steven newlin fight or is there another one on there that you’re? Like that’s? That’S? Who I am as a fighter, I would say you can go. Watch the solo fight, the solo fights on YouTube. You know anybody can access that any other fights you can’t even find online. So if you really want to find one fight that I could actually tell people to go to go watch the souls daily fight, verse me and conflict on YouTube. You know that was probably one of my best performances against a guy who was solo at the time. Was 8-2 he had finished all of his opponents, he had never been finished and I was actually coming off of a loss. I was three and one yeah. Anyone yeah. I was three and one I lost mine, so that wasthat I had just before. That was for the florida state title and i thought this kid cam and he it was one of the fights where i walked into the cage and i felt like I just walked out of bed like I wasn’t hyped up. It was an anything he was already at 90 % when we started the fight. He came at me hard and I was out like 15 20 percent, and it was still it was a competitive. Fighting is only one round, but it was a real back-and-forth. Like really intense fighting, then it just got to a point in my head. My legs got real heavy and I actually had a really deep power guillotine choke and I was choking him and we both slipped and fell, and my body was heavy and, as I was getting up, he ran around to my back and that’s when he locked in The rear naked choke, I actually pulled the top hand down the correct defense, and then he modified it and took the choke anyway, and that was really really crappy loss. So after that, obviously taking a fighting solo was kind of scary. It’S like we’re going from my loss to someone who’s, arguably better than the kid I just lost to and more of a beast. You know in Syria, so obviously fight island is a go. Is that somewhere you’d compete against? You know an empty or a compete? Is that a place where you would compete? Obviously, no one in attendance, don’t even know where it is really it is. Is that something that excites you being able to fight on an island, or is it something that you’re like you know, whatever I’ll do it yeah? I mean I didn’t be kind of cool, let’s be honest. It for one it’d probably be just like The Contender series: they’d be pretty quiet, you know the contenders. There are people there, but only like three or four of them were there to watch me fight. So there wasn’t a lot of noise going on and then you know having this, like. You know radical event going on an island out in the middle somewhere. You don’t know where you’re going, it just seems like a movie like type. You know type of thing experience to do and then Dana’s talking about how like fighters came before he has actual events. That fighters can go out there and train you know, so they can go out there train get in shape and then when they have the event and they fight, then they can fight out there. So I mean why not like you know, I’m down for fine Island. I think it’s okay, so it’s like some like Hunger Games. Type thing like it’s crazy is: is a movie you’re watching or is there any TV shows you’re watching during quarantine? That’S some non MMA content here to finish it up. Is there anything that you’d recommend to anybody watching, but you got to watch this. Obviously Tiger King has been coming up. A lot is there? Is there another one you’ve watched that that your your high on, I suppose Ark Ozark season? Three just came out a few weeks ago, and I killed that in about two days if you’ve never seen oz Ark man it, it’s like like Breaking Bad, is like right here, Ozark pretty close to that. I’M not good! I’M really behind in my in my movies. In my my TV shows, I’m doing a lot of catching up, I’m on Breaking Bad right now, okay, so after that I’ll probably jump into Ozark everyone’s talking about as well, so it’s so good you’ll love, you’ll, love it alright, man well uh! Thank you for taking the taking the time and I hope, training and everything goes well and I hope to see you back in there hopefully on flight Island. I think that’d be pretty cool. Yeah thanks man, thanks for having me on appreciate, yeah yeah, of course, then be safe out there. Alright man, you too, what keep washing your hands. I will you too

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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