Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to Idaho MMA Featherweight standout, Andrew “Hurricane” Cruz, after his 3rd round submission victory over Kevin Chung at Stellar Fights 47.
Cruz had nothing but good things to say about his opponent and acknowledged that Chung landed a head kick early in their fight that “rang his bell” a little bit. Nevertheless, Cruz was still confident and laser focused, stating “you’re never going to see me jumping on the cage or throwing my mouth piece because in my mind I’ve already won this fight.”
Cruz has been known to chase “big fish” and has made that his goal from the start, seeking out worthy opponents like Chung.
Cruz and Chung are highly decorated and battle tested opponents on the regional circuit and went right to work, skipping the typical feeling out process. Both men have fought for some of the biggest mixed martial arts promotions in the world, outside of the UFC. Cruz came forward with striking pressure and landed an easy takedown in the first round, but Chung was able to escape and score a brief takedown of his own. Cruz escaped from that takedown and landed another takedown with top position of his own. The first round was back and forth for the first few minutes, but ultimately Cruz was able to own the top position for the last minute of the round. Cruz felt good on the feet but he and his corner believed that he owned a significant advantage on the ground. When describing his game plan Cruz said “my game plan each fight is to be the first one to touch him” and he was successful that way in the first round.
Cruz mentioned in the pre-fight press conference that his game plan was to take down his opponent and “beat him up”, which is exactly what happened. In the 2nd round you could see Cruz pick up the pace a bit as he landed several hard foot stomps followed by the takedown in under two-minutes and went to work.
Cruz joked, “I never throw foot stomps, and the reason I don’t is because I don’t want people to do them to do it to me.” There was another moment where Cruz took his opponent’s back late in the 2nd round and he worked for the submission but the time expired. Cruz and his corner felt that this would be his path to victory as he was able to score the takedown and submission attempt fairly easily throughout the previous two rounds.
For the long-time wrestler and grappler, grinding out rounds comes easy for Cruz. The 3rd round of their fight started the same way the 2nd round ended. Cruz closed the distance with his striking and worked in his takedown to which he was successful again. Cruz stayed in his dominate position and patiently worked for the finish, and got a rear naked choke finish in the 3rd round. Cruz also uses some moves that will look familiar to wrestlers and often credits moves like the “navy ride” other ankle rides to help him keep his opponents down. This allows Cruz to get to work on either ground and pound or submission, which he has become very good at. With his recent submission win Cruz now sports a record of 8-4 and all of his wins have been finishes, so it’s safe to say he’s doing something right.
Cruz never had intentions of becoming a professional mixed martial artist when he first started training but in the last few years he has picked up momentum. Cruz has headlined shows for LFA and other big promotions and knows that the UFC will soon be knocking on his door. He’s still getting used to the evolution of the fight game as one of the bigger MMA promotions he competed for asked him to create an Instagram account.
Cruz admits, “I’m trying to be genuine like this is who I am. I’m not much of a trash talker,” but he understands the need to sell fights and use social media. He fought several opponents who are currently signed to the UFC and with big wins over big name opponents he can expect the same treatment.
There’s an old saying that goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and it’s safe to say that what Cruz is doing is not broke. He’s finished eight professional mixed marital arts opponents and looks to continue that trend until he gets the big calls. You can follow along with Cruz on Instagram @andrew145cruz and see the serious side along with the fun side of the Hurricane.
Photos below on Cruz’s Instagram from Mullen Media Enterprises
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