Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) delivers another mini-card of highly motivated action on July 24th. Season 2, Week 6 has a good chance of being the most watched episode of the young series to date, thanks to former WSOF standout Nick Newell being scheduled to headline against Alex Munoz.
Though he’s not getting the same attention as the 14-1 Newell, Jim Crute — who is traveling to Vegas all the way from Melbourne, Australia — is hoping to garner plenty of interest after the fights are over and the valuable UFC contracts have been handed out.
Crute, whose nickname is ‘The Brute’, is a 6’3” light heavyweight who has fought exclusively in Hex Fight Series. In that Australian promotion Crute has gone 7-0, scooping the 205 lb. title along the way. In those seven victories he has scored two TKOs and two submissions.
The 22-year-old told Bloody Elbow that he’d been doing martial arts most of his life. It all began with karate. “My old man put me in for discipline and just something active to do,” said Crute.
When he was eight, he took up judo. However, he explained, he wanted to find a martial art that “felt more real.” This took him to Brazilian jiu jitsu at age 12. Around this time he also discovered the UFC. “As soon as I saw UFC or MMA, I knew for sure that is exactly what I wanted to do,” remembered Crute.
The first MMA Crute ever watched was a highlight of Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Cro Cop, where the Brazilian stunned the fighting world by icing the Croatian with a devastating head kick. That fight took place all the way back at UFC 70 in 2007. That event also saw Andrei Arlovski vs. Fabricio Werdum, Michael Bisping vs. Elvis Sinosic, and Lyoto Machida vs. David Heath.
Enamored with what he saw from Napao, and then many other MMA fighters, a pre-teen Crute was desperate to get into striking. “I asked and asked, but my coach and my old man wanted me to have a good foundation of grappling and to then move eventually into striking. And I’m glad they did that because now I know I can always fall back on my roots.”
Crute, after a few years of ‘training’ himself how to strike in his family’s garden shed, was given the green-light to take up kickboxing when he was around 16-years-old. A few later he hooked up with his current striking coach.
With most his life occupied by grappling and striking, teenage Crute was competing in BJJ tournaments every chance he could get. He also fought in a number of Kudo fights, which he described as almost no-holds-barred contests in Kyokushin karate gear and a helmet. “You can headbutt, elbow, do whatever you like,” said Crute. “That was sort of like my amateur experience.”
Crute entered pro MMA in 2016, aged 20. His first fight lasted just over four minutes and ended in an arm triangle choke. Ever since then he’s beaten everyone who has been put in front of him. And it’s looked easy for him a lot of the time.
“I think I’ve fought everyone I’ve fought at the right time in my career,” said Crute when asked about his level of competition. “I’ve had challenging moments, but never once have I thought that someone was going to beat me in a fight. I’ve been cut, I’ve been injured going into a fight, I’ve had pretty serious illnesses before fights and stuff, but I feel like I’ve breezed through most of it.”
Crute’s assertion that he’s ‘breezed’ through his competition is not meant as disrespect to his opponents, some of which he called ‘world class’. “I’ve felt what world class guys are like. I’ve fought the best guys available at any given time. I’ve never taken an easy route,” he said.
Crute’s next challenge comes in the form of Chris Birchler (7-3) who has fought mostly in the CFFC promotion. His last fight, in April, was a loss to UFC veteran Matt Hamill. Part of the challenge that comes along with Birchler is the atmosphere that revolves around DWTNCS itself, a format which does not reward victories as much as it does impressive stoppages.
When asked whether the show’s format made him feel any extra pressure heading into the fight, Crute shook it off. He loves how the show works. “They’re obviously looking for incredible finishes and the big knockouts and you can’t afford to just win,” said Crute. “You have to go out there and really make a statement. That’s a really cool element to it. Everyone’s real amped up and ready to put on a show because they obviously want that contract. So I think it’s a very cool idea and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
“There’s no added pressure for me,” added Crute. “That’s the way I fight anyway. Even my decisions, they’re exciting. You can’t go in there and say, ‘Oh I have to knock him out,’ because that’s how you leave yourself open. I’d rather win the fight, than come all this way and try and go for a knockout. First and foremost you have to win the fight. If you lose the fight you’re not getting the contract. If you get caught, you’re not getting the contract. But I feel like my style is exciting anyway. If I just fight the way I fight without any added pressure, I’ll get the job done and I’ll get it done in an exciting way.”
Crute called his method of fighting ‘punch on’, an Australian expression that basically means you’re always up for a brawl. Crute also said that he has a very ‘dominating’ style. “If you look at my record, I have three decisions, but in all of those decisions I have at least one 10-8 round and I’ve never lost a round. I just like going out there and just ‘punch on’, that’s how I describe my fighting style.”
You can see Crute’s ‘punch on’ style for yourself when DWTNCS goes live on July 24th. The action starts at 8PM ET on UFC Fight Pass.