The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented fighter on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
Our pick last week sadly never got to the cage due to his opponent having weigh-in day health issues. While there’s been a bunch of cancellations on this card as well, were sure we picked someone you’ll actually get to see fight.
Affiliation – DEFWAR
From – Tampa, Florida
Height – 6’0″
Weight – 145 lbs (Featherweight)
Record – 8-2 (0-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
When looking at Cruz’s body of work, the thing that sticks out the most prominently is the kicks. He uses his legs to stay at range and pick apart his opponents better than most that you’ll see on the regional level. We saw this on the Contender Series where his kicks began to frustrate his foe (Steven Nguyen) and forced him to rush into exchanges. This is extremely valuable to Cruz for more than one reason. Firstly, he does a great job of making people pay when rushing in (again, see his Contender Series bout). The second reason is that he is a long fighter, which means when people don’t rush in, he is usually out of range for them. This combination makes his a nightmare on the feet for a lot of people.
Why he has been overlooked
One would think that a highlight reel finish after an exciting stand up battle would bring a little more hype that Cruz has. His flying knee victory over the aforementioned Nguyen on Contender Series certainly fit that bill, yet he still enters the UFC without much fan fare. The primary reason for this is coming from a camp without many other high profile professionals – in fact, I think he’d be the first UFC fighter from the camp. Of course, this is true of every gym until someone is the first, and Cruz has a chance to make a statement for DEFWAR.
What makes this a good match-up
Originally slated to face Steven Peterson, who is another lengthy striker, Cruz now faced Spike Carlyle, who is a much shorter opponent. At only 5’7″, Carlyle has developed a style that allows him to make up for the fact that he is so much shorter than his opponents at featherweight (and even lightweight, where he sometimes fights). That style involves non-stop forward pressure and a strong desire to grapple. Although that is not what Cruz originally planned for, it is something that Cruz excels at dealing with. His ability to work the legs, stay at distance, and force mistakes when someone does rush in, should serve him exceptionally well in this bout.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 191-83-1 (2 NC) (8 DNF)
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