Jim Crute on Improvements Shown at UFC Auckland: ‘I’m Not Just Winging It Anymore’

By Mike Sloan Feb 23, 2020

Jim Crute had his impressive unblemished professional record derailed last September, but he bounced back in spectacular fashion Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 168 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Crute (11-1) wasted no time in executing his grappling game against the dangerous Michal Oleksiejczuk, as he took his opponent down repeatedly and submitted him in the first round. The Pole is a murderous striker, having scored 10 knockouts so far in his MMA career, and “The Brute” made sure he didn’t succumb to Oleksiejczuk’s power. Rather, the Aussie shot in, took “Lord” down and proceeded to force a tap due to a textbook kimura.

The end came just 3:29 into the contest and Crute was candid after his win about his gameplan against the striker.

“He’s too dangerous to stand in front of, so I took him down,” Crute said. “I said I’d take him down and take his arm. I’m coming to win fights and make smart decisions. I approach this sport like I’m going on a hunt. I’m not just winging it anymore. I have a job and game plan, so I stick to that.”

Crute was impressive in dispatching such a dangerous foe so quickly, but he said he had to keep his emotions in check. Fighting in front of thousands of rabid Aussie and Kiwi fans was a challenge and, after coming off his first career loss, he could ill afford to slip up.

“I’ve never been this emotional walking out to a fight,” he said. “It hit me hard. After my last fight, I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t want to let myself down, because I know how much I put into this.”

The natural progression of any fighter’s career is to continually move up the proverbial rankings ladder and eventually land a world title shot. From there comes fame and fortune, but the 23-year-old fighter says he has a plan. The light heavyweight wants to eventually be at the top of the heap with a belt around his waist, but he said he has unfinished business with the only man to beat him.

“I want one more fight, then I want a rematch with Misha Cirkunov,” he stated. “(But) I need to earn it first. I don’t care who I fight before him.”

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