Daron Cruickshank Ready For Henry Martinez: “I’m Going to Put a Few Kicks in His Face And See How he Likes it.”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After competing on the twelfth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and scoring a unanimous decision win over Chris Tickle in the finale, Daron Cruickshank is ready to begin the next stage of his UFC career. Up next, the Michigan fighter will take on Jackson’s MMA’s Henry Martinez, who is also looking to further establish himself in the UFC lightweight rankings.
“I think it’s a good match-up,” said Cruickshank, while discussing his next opponent, who he will fight September 1st at UFC 151. “Everybody that gets in the UFC is dangerous so there’s no easy fights. You just have to get ready. Keep working on your skills and be sure you’re ready. Make sure your cardio is up and your weight’s down.’
Martinez (9-2) made his Octagon debut in February, as the 29 year-old-veteran agreed to fight Matt Riddle on short notice, and dropped a split decision to the welterweight. In June, however, Martinez returned to the promotion as a lightweight and outscored Bernardo Magalhaes for the split decision win.
“I’ve seen one of his fight on Youtube,” Cruickshank (11-2) told Full Contact Fighter. “I watched just a few minutes and it was mostly grappling. He has good takedowns and what not, but everybody has that, and he’s not a world champ or anything, so it didn’t deter me or anything because he’s good at that.”
Cruickshank may not have been intimidated by Martinez’s takedowns due to his own successes as a collegiate wrestler. As a result, it will be interesting to see how the upcoming fight unfolds, and whether Cruickshank will try to test the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt’s grappling abilities.
“I was always taught, when I was growing up, you never box a boxer, you never wrestle a wrestler; you always take a fighter who is great at one thing out of his element,” the Taekwondo black belt noted. “I like to think of myself as being good everywhere but I love striking.”
“When I step in the cage and meet him, feel him out for that first minute, I’m automatically going to know what I want to do, where I want to keep it,” the 27 year-old Cruickshank added. “I don’t think he’s as aggressive and skilled on his feet as I am. If he’s more of a grappler and that’s where he wants to go, I’m going to put a few kicks in his face and see how he likes it.”
Cruickshank cited being a well rounded fighter, and continues to work on his jiu-jitsu game with noted practitioners like BJJ Black Belt John Toth.
“I roll and grapple quite a bit, and I’ve wrestled half my life, but it’s not my passion,” Cruickshank conceded. “I don’t go and do jiu-jitsu tournaments. When I get into a fight I don’t think about submitting people. When I get on top of somebody, I’m not thinking triangle or anything like that, I’m thinking about punching him in the face. I just think it’s my animal instinct.”
In addition to his usual training partners in Michigan, Cruickshank reports that he also turned to some connections he made during TUF 12 to help him prepare for Martinez.
“I’ve built a really good relationship with Urijah Faber, he was my coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” said Cruickshank, who was eliminated from the TUF competition by James Vick. “I’ve made a really good relationship with him and he invited me out to train with his team. It was a great experience…they have a great program out there. There’s 30 guys in the room who are all high quality wrestlers, high quality fighters and they know how to push the pace and run a practice.”
“There are 30 pros everyday in practice, ready to rip your head off, and it’s just a great feeling.”
UFC 151 will be hosted by The Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada.