UFC FN 54: Daron Cruickshank Says Entertaining Fights Still the Plan, but Winning Main Focus
By Kelsey Mowatt
While some forecasters may be calling for a striking clinic when Anthony Njokuani battles Daron Cruickshank at UFC Fight Night 54, the latter is quick to remind observers that he’ s equipped with other tools.
The lightweight vets are scheduled to fight in Halifax on Saturday night, and due to the striking pedigrees of both men, many folks are expecting an all stand-up affair.
“This is mixed-martial-arts, and I do feel like a lot of people underrate my grappling, so maybe I go out there to take him down and beat on him a little bit,” Cruickshank said on a recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “You know it’s always an option. It’s mixed-martial-arts and you have to be ready for everything.”
Although in the past, Cruickshank has been open about the fact he’s hoping to land a fight night bonus, the vet understands the risks that can be tied to that goal. Especially when you’re coming off a defeat.
“First and foremost, you have to win the fight,” said Cruickshank, while discussing whether fighters have to be careful about getting caught up in the “Fight of the Night” narrative. “But if you can do it in a spectacular manner, then obviously that’s welcome. Sometimes you do have to go out there, take a guy down and lay on him for a little bit, but obviously that’s not something I try to do.”
“Obviously, I want to get a bonus, but I’m not going for it anymore,” Cruickshank relayed later on in the interview. “I’ve done it so much in the past, I feel like there was a few times where I could have had it, but it just doesn’t work out. So for me mentally, I’m not necessarily only looking for that, I want to win the fight.”
Cruickshank (15-5) scored two, highlight reel stoppage wins over Mike Rio and Erik Koch earlier in 2014, before he was decisioned by Jorge Masvidal in July.
“I got ready for a striking match,” said Cruickshank, when asked to reflect on his UFC on FOX 12 bout with Masvidal. “I feel like that fight doesn’t reflect my grappling abilities, because the mind frame I was in, I thought it was going to be a war on the feet, and I kind of stepped back from my wrestling and got ready for the striking game. I feel like maybe that was my mistake in that fight.”
“The Jorge Masvidal fight I’m pretty sure I knocked him out in the first round,” Cruickshank furthered about the loss. “He’s a pretty tough dude and once his head hit the mat he woke right back up…so, I didn’t want to rush in on him, get taken down and laid on, obviously, that’s kind of what happened later on in the fight, but it’s not something I want to do. I don’t want to lay on someone, hold them down, and not be entertaining.”
Njokuani (16-8) is also looking to get back on track, as the 34 year-old was decisioned by Vinc Pichel in May, after KO’ing Roger Bowling last April.
“I definitely have to respect his skills on his feet,” the 29 year-old Cruickshank noted about Njokuani. “He’s got a lot of wins…he’s got a good back ground in Muay Thai. He’s longer than me, so I have a lot of obstacles to get through, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before, and I’ll address them when the fight comes.”
UFC FN 54 will be hosted by the Halifax Forum in Nova Scotia, and will feature Rory MacDonald taking on Tarec Saffiedine in the main event.