Infotainment Factory: This Aussie is hunting the world's most dangerous man

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

This Aussie is hunting the world's most dangerous man


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He’s the youngest fighter in his division, but light-heavyweight prospect Jimmy ‘The Brute’ Crute is not the waiting type.

The Aussie UFC star, 23, just talked himself into his first proper holiday in four years and even then, there was work involved. Filming for Air Asia in Japan and Phuket, then on to Koh Samui for a Reebok summit, and finally some down-time in Bali with his girlfriend and her family.

Now he’s back in the gym, with his next fight booked: Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vancouver in mid-September. Cirkunov is a Latvian-Canadian fighting at home and at No.15, he’s Crute’s first ranked opponent. It’s a huge moment for the Aussie.

“I want to knock him out. I want to leave him unconscious on the floor while I’m still doing my interview. That’s my goal,” Crute told Wide World of Sports.

“I know that doesn’t always happen as you plan it and I’m prepared to go for three hard rounds, but the ideal goal would be to knock him out cold and have no one be able to question it. I want to send a message to everyone.

“It’s a very big moment, very important step. I’m ready for it. I’m ready to grab it by the balls, grit through adversity and get the win. It doesn’t matter how much I have to sacrifice, I’m going to get this win.

“I’ve come back [from holidays] with a refreshed mind and a refreshed body. I’ve never felt this clear in my mind. It’s really good.

“I’m always down to scrap. If the UFC had have come to me and said, ‘We need you to fight next week’, while I was overseas, I would have said, ‘No worries, let’s do it’.

“But I think it was a very smart move on my behalf to take time off. I think I’m going to reap the benefits off it for this preparation.”

Cirkunov (14-5) is a serious fighter. Like Crute, he mixes elite grappling with explosive striking power. Yet with three stoppage defeats in his past four fights, any contender buzz has worn off him.

The 32-year-old demands respect, but he represents a stepping stone if Crute is good enough once the cage door slams shut. The Aussie intends to put on a show and extend his 10-0 pro MMA record, which includes two UFC wins.

“I’m only 23 year-old, so I know I’ve got a lot of time – but I’m in this sport for a good time, not a long time,” he said.

“People tell me to take it slow and pad your record out, do this, do that. I just think, why the hell would I want to do that?

“I’ve got an opportunity to fight the best guys in the world. Win, lose or draw, I’m going to go after that wholeheartedly.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my career and go, ‘F--- … if only I did this, if only I said yes to that opportunity’. Whatever opportunity the UFC allow me to have, I’m going to go after it.”

The ultimate challenge in the entire sport lies at the top of Crute’s division: 205-pound champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. Twice stripped of the title - once for a positive PED test - and now facing a battery charge for allegedly slapping a cocktail waitress in a strip club, the American is one of the most controversial figures in UFC history.

Yet Jones is arguably also the promotion’s greatest fighter. He may be the world's most dangerous combat athlete.

Jones is eight years Crute’s senior but still just 32; meaning the Aussie could have time to elevate himself into a match-up against the legend. It remains to be seen if Jones will switch to heavyweight, where his bitter rival – Daniel Cormier – holds the belt.

“I think if Jon Jones decides to move up to heavyweight and if you win the light-heavyweight championship, you’ve got to legitimise it by having him come back down and fighting him for it,” Crute said.

“Jon Jones is the greatest of all time and I think actually beating him is bigger than winning a belt in any weight class. He is hands-down the pound-for-pound greatest to ever do it. I’ve got a lot of time before I even think about that, but it is something to think about it.

“Everything he’s been through outside of [fighting], he still comes back and gets the job done every time. You don’t have to like it, but you have to respect it.”

Jon Jones

Jones is the one veteran fighter who remains untouchable at 205 pounds, having just beaten Thiago Santos at UFC 239. It has been a maligned, ageing division, stacked with fighters who were never going to be good enough to dethrone the champion.

Yet those older fighters are now an endangered species thanks to the likes of Crute, while another Aussie - Tyson Pedro - was also on a nice run at light-heavyweight before losing to big names Ovince St Preux and Mauricio Rua.

“It was wide open about six months ago. Now, you’ve got some killers. Myself, Johnny Walker, [Aleksandar] Rakic, [Anthony] Smith, Santos. All these guys that are coming up, the new breed of light-heavyweight,” Crute said.

“Six months ago, you could walk in and get a title shot. Now, you’ve got to go through some killers. Light-heavyweight’s finally exciting again and I feel like I’m part of that, which is pretty cool.

“It’s a changing of the guard. You see some of the staples of this division getting absolutely cleaned-up by the new guns. It’s been a long time coming, light-heavyweight’s been shallow for a long time, but now it’s probably one of the most on-fire divisions.”

Crute vs Cirkunov promises to be a cracking fight. Cirkunov’s three recent losses were to entirely credible opponents: Johnny Walker, Glover Teixeira and Volkan Oezdemir. Crute is taking his first UFC bout overseas.

“I’ve always liked the idea of just going to someone’s home town and taking the win. I always feel like these guys don’t want to come here and fight me, so I’ve got to go after them in their home country,” he said.

“I just want to experience everything this sport has to offer. I could have waited out the to fight, to get all the cheers and all the love at [UFC 243 in Australia] three weeks after, but this opportunity was far too big to pass up.

“Once you’re in there, you’re locked in a cage and fighting, the boos, the cheers and all that doesn’t mean anything once you’re getting punched in the head.”

He’s the youngest fighter in his division, but light-heavyweight prospect Jimmy ‘The Brute’ Crute is not the waiting type.

The Aussie UFC star, 23, just talked himself into his first proper holiday in four years and even then, there was work involved. Filming for Air Asia in Japan and Phuket, then on to Koh Samui for a Reebok summit, and finally some down-time in Bali with his girlfriend and her family.

Now he’s back in the gym, with his next fight booked: Misha Cirkunov at UFC Vancouver in mid-September. Cirkunov is a Latvian-Canadian fighting at home and at No.15, he’s Crute’s first ranked opponent. It’s a huge moment for the Aussie.

“I want to knock him out. I want to leave him unconscious on the floor while I’m still doing my interview. That’s my goal,” Crute told Wide World of Sports.

“I know that doesn’t always happen as you plan it and I’m prepared to go for three hard rounds, but the ideal goal would be to knock him out cold and have no one be able to question it. I want to send a message to everyone.

“It’s a very big moment, very important step. I’m ready for it. I’m ready to grab it by the balls, grit through adversity and get the win. It doesn’t matter how much I have to sacrifice, I’m going to get this win.

“I’ve come back [from holidays] with a refreshed mind and a refreshed body. I’ve never felt this clear in my mind. It’s really good.

“I’m always down to scrap. If the UFC had have come to me and said, ‘We need you to fight next week’, while I was overseas, I would have said, ‘No worries, let’s do it’.

“But I think it was a very smart move on my behalf to take time off. I think I’m going to reap the benefits off it for this preparation.”

Cirkunov (14-5) is a serious fighter. Like Crute, he mixes elite grappling with explosive striking power. Yet with three stoppage defeats in his past four fights, any contender buzz has worn off him.

The 32-year-old demands respect, but he represents a stepping stone if Crute is good enough once the cage door slams shut. The Aussie intends to put on a show and extend his 10-0 pro MMA record, which includes two UFC wins.

“I’m only 23 year-old, so I know I’ve got a lot of time – but I’m in this sport for a good time, not a long time,” he said.

“People tell me to take it slow and pad your record out, do this, do that. I just think, why the hell would I want to do that?

“I’ve got an opportunity to fight the best guys in the world. Win, lose or draw, I’m going to go after that wholeheartedly.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my career and go, ‘F--- … if only I did this, if only I said yes to that opportunity’. Whatever opportunity the UFC allow me to have, I’m going to go after it.”

The ultimate challenge in the entire sport lies at the top of Crute’s division: 205-pound champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. Twice stripped of the title - once for a positive PED test - and now facing a battery charge for allegedly slapping a cocktail waitress in a strip club, the American is one of the most controversial figures in UFC history.

Yet Jones is arguably also the promotion’s greatest fighter. He may be the world's most dangerous combat athlete.

Jones is eight years Crute’s senior but still just 32; meaning the Aussie could have time to elevate himself into a match-up against the legend. It remains to be seen if Jones will switch to heavyweight, where his bitter rival – Daniel Cormier – holds the belt.

“I think if Jon Jones decides to move up to heavyweight and if you win the light-heavyweight championship, you’ve got to legitimise it by having him come back down and fighting him for it,” Crute said.

“Jon Jones is the greatest of all time and I think actually beating him is bigger than winning a belt in any weight class. He is hands-down the pound-for-pound greatest to ever do it. I’ve got a lot of time before I even think about that, but it is something to think about it.

“Everything he’s been through outside of [fighting], he still comes back and gets the job done every time. You don’t have to like it, but you have to respect it.”

Jon Jones

Jones is the one veteran fighter who remains untouchable at 205 pounds, having just beaten Thiago Santos at UFC 239. It has been a maligned, ageing division, stacked with fighters who were never going to be good enough to dethrone the champion.

Yet those older fighters are now an endangered species thanks to the likes of Crute, while another Aussie - Tyson Pedro - was also on a nice run at light-heavyweight before losing to big names Ovince St Preux and Mauricio Rua.

“It was wide open about six months ago. Now, you’ve got some killers. Myself, Johnny Walker, [Aleksandar] Rakic, [Anthony] Smith, Santos. All these guys that are coming up, the new breed of light-heavyweight,” Crute said.

“Six months ago, you could walk in and get a title shot. Now, you’ve got to go through some killers. Light-heavyweight’s finally exciting again and I feel like I’m part of that, which is pretty cool.

“It’s a changing of the guard. You see some of the staples of this division getting absolutely cleaned-up by the new guns. It’s been a long time coming, light-heavyweight’s been shallow for a long time, but now it’s probably one of the most on-fire divisions.”

Crute vs Cirkunov promises to be a cracking fight. Cirkunov’s three recent losses were to entirely credible opponents: Johnny Walker, Glover Teixeira and Volkan Oezdemir. Crute is taking his first UFC bout overseas.

“I’ve always liked the idea of just going to someone’s home town and taking the win. I always feel like these guys don’t want to come here and fight me, so I’ve got to go after them in their home country,” he said.

“I just want to experience everything this sport has to offer. I could have waited out the to fight, to get all the cheers and all the love at [UFC 243 in Australia] three weeks after, but this opportunity was far too big to pass up.

“Once you’re in there, you’re locked in a cage and fighting, the boos, the cheers and all that doesn’t mean anything once you’re getting punched in the head.”

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