Have you ever wanted to know about the next big thing before your friends? Well here at ArtofMMA.com we are about to give you the chance! We love big promotional MMA like Bellator, BAMMA and of course the UFC but very few fighters start off in one of those promotions, they have to go through the rigors of smaller promotions. Guys like Dustin Poirier have had their road to the UFC documents in such films as Fightville. This is where some of the greatest fighters you have never heard of thrive and today we would like to introduce you to such a fighter.
His name is Anthony “The Tiger” Cruz. He is from the Bronx, NY and fights out of Renzo Gracie MMA in NYC. He holds a a first degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, is a 3 time kickboxing champion. He is currently vying for a shot to get on Warrior’s Island.
Good afternoon Anthony and thanks for taking the time to sit down with us here at ArtofMMA.com. How has everything been going?
Tiger: It is my pleasure thanks for having me Erik.
Can you tell us about your professional career (record, wins via, ect)?
Tiger: I am a Pro in Kickboxing 25-4-18 i hold 3 Championships the New York Kickboxing Championships, the I.K.A.S. (International Kickboxing Association) Championships and the International Kickboxing Championships. In MMA am still amateur because I didn’t want to go straight Pro in MMA because i wanted to get my BJJ down. That’s way am at Renzo Gracie BJJ Academy NYC.
Can you take a minute to tell our readers about yourself and what got you into the world of MMA?
Tiger: Hhmmm well I started studying Martial Arts under my father, who learned it in the Army. He told me at the time they were teaching them Shotokan Karate and Boxing. So at 6 years old he started teaching me that, but he put it together as a form of Kickboxing-MMA and that was the start of my from of MMA Kuen-To in Cantonese (Boxing Form) the only student to be Certified is my cousin David “Bolo” Rivera back in 1994. I retired from Kickboxing because after sometime I couldn’t get a fight and nobody wanted to fight me. So I talked to Renzo Gracie because I knew him for many years, my cousin David Rivera goes there and that’s how I know Renzo Gracie.
What is Warrior Island and Global Proving Ground and is there any way our readers can help you get on it? (See link below)
Tiger: Warriors Island is a new MMA reality show from Global Proving Ground is like TUF meets Survivor, they pick 16 guys and put them in a Island. The readers and fans can go to the YouTube channel Global Proving Ground subscribe to it and like my video to VOTE for me, to be one of the fighter’s on the Island.
You mention in the video you not always looking for the knockout, what is your favorite way to end a fight?
Tiger: LOL I don’t because you can’t just look for the K.O. it happens. But because I like to start first and I am aggressive, plus I do hit hard the K.O. does happen a lot.
In many other sports such as basketball and football there is a huge difference in not only skill level but of fan intensity from the college ranks to the pros, what do you think are some big differences between smaller promotions and those that we see on Friday and Saturday nights on PPV?
Tiger: I see a big difference in the intensity, because in the smaller shows the guy’s have a lot to proof. Once they get big! Big money! Big shows and they know they made it. Somehow the intensity slows down? It doesn’t happen to everybody put it does happen a lot. So because of it you do see good games or fights!
What is your favorite part of being a professional fighter?
Tiger: Love being a Pro because not only you get the recognition, but the interaction with the fans is great. Love that as you can see. The fans are what make the sport! I don’t understand how many guys don’t give the fans the attention they deserve.
Who were some of your idols in the world of MMA and outside of it?
Tiger: WOW!!! Idols? First of all my father not only was the first to introduce me to the Martial Arts, but he also was a big Bruce Lee fan! When he was not teaching me, he would say “Anthony you see this guy (Bruce Lee)”, I would say “yes father” and he would tell me “learn from him”. So all my life I have.
What do you do outside of being a professional fighter and teaching?
Tiger: Outside off fighting i work as a Personal Trainer in NYC. I train regular people and Celebrity’s like Eric Dane, Anderson Cooper and others. I also help different guy’s with there training in Boxing, Kickboxing, MMA and Conditioning.
You are very active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter (@Tigerfanclub) and always interacting with your fans, do you feel that is very important and why?
Tiger: Very important like i said before because the fan’s is what make the sport. Everywhere I go I never think of myself like am better or I don’t have the time for my fans. If anything I always act like a regular guy because I am. Some guy’s let the fame get to them and like a lot of people have told me. Is a turn off to them, I don’t ever want that for my fans to say that about me.
You reside in NYC, the one major market that still has not legalized MMA, can you give us an update on any news or efforts to get MMA legalized in NY.
Tiger: Yeah it’s stupid, NY always talk about being a business city? And the city always needs money, well why they can’t have MMA and make money for the city? They act like they really care about the guy’s bullshit! And politics are not always right! But I heard they having the first Pro MMA in NY sometime in March.
What is the best part of being from the city?
Tiger: Best part is that you don’t need to drive everywhere, and you can visit many great gyms.
I grew up all over NY and spent some great years in the city, we tend to get the rap that everyone from NY and NYC runs our mouth and tries to start fights all the time, that is not the case with you. How do you stay away from that?
Tiger: Yeah NY always get a bad rap! But everywhere it has the bad and good places. It’s how you carry yourself and the people you hang out with. Nobody picks on me, and if they do I will end it real quick. The last time I had a fight on the street was like 2 year’s ago, in the Bronx broke the guys face blood was everywhere. And what really piss me off the most was that he ruined my new TapOut shirt, lol! So I just don’t hang in bad places the way I use to do.
Speaking of where you are from you train under the legendary Renzo Gracie, how special is that? Speak to us about your gym and your team there.
Tiger: Man!!! Is great training at Renzo Gracie BJJ Academy NYC i been going there on and off for many years, Renzo Gracie and me are very cool with each other. We respect each other more than just a Master and student relationship. The Team is great Team Renzo Gracie we do have great guys training with us like Roller Gracie, Igor Gracie, Gregor Gracie, Frankie Edgar, GSP, Rafael “Sapo” Natal, Phillipe Nover, Akira Corassani and the name goes on and on. Because a lot of guys from different schools comes there for BJJ training from the best instructor’s, like the one and only Renzo Gracie and John Danaher.
Do you ever get starstruck by some of the talent that comes through that gym such as Frankie Edgar and others?
Tiger: Yes I do get starstruck even in my sport am well known, but training in the same room with these guy’s is like yeah I belong here! They are all true gentleman and we help each other, great team. Am also training with Team Terry Brooklyn MMA great guys also, and thankful for welcoming me with open arms.
People outside of MMA rarely get to see fighters before they reach the top levels. can you talk to us about just how hard it is to break into mainstream MMA such as Bellator or the UFC?
Tiger: Very hard to get in for the simple fact that there is so many camps trying to push their guy in. It wasn’t that hard when I started.
If you could jump into the UFC right now is there anyone you would want to stand across from in the octagon and why?
Tiger: Mmm??? Am very rounded and never like a easy fight. So i like to fight guy’s like Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, etc because these are the top guy’s and the only way to get respect is to beat somebody like them.
What are your views on the big issue in MMA right now, TRT (testosterone replacement therapy)?
Tiger: I have a big problem with fighter’s using it and saying that the only reason they using it is because they have Low T? Bullshit! So guess what LT or not you can’t fight because is illegal and it does make a big difference when a fighter is using it and the other not!
What is your favorite part of training and leading up to the fights?
Tiger: Pushing myself and seeing myself getting better and better! Great feeling!
What gets you through the weight cut and rough times during camp?
Tiger: I don’t weight cut I don’t know how guys can do that all the time. Not only is not good for your health, but you sacrifice your strength and endurance, etc. Some guy’s can do it GOD bless them I can’t. I lose 5 lbs. And I’m fast as hell but with no power, so over the years I have learn to stay year around close to my weight and get has strong as I can on that weight.
In your eyes what makes you a unique fighter and someone our readers should vote for and follow?
Tiger: I am bless not only with the skills i have but on top of that and very humble i think that’s is what makes me different. I like to meet people and help them if I can without asking anything in return.
Final question before we finish, if you could give one tip or bit of advise to anyone looking to get into MMA what would it be?
Tiger: Sure never quit! If this is what you want to do, do it for the right reasons. Don’t put to much pressure on yourself about doing it for the money, because is not easy to make a good living in it.
Thanks again Anthony, are there any sponsors, people or companies you would like to mention as we close?
Tiger: Yes i like to thank my family, friends and fans for their love and support, it means a lot to me. Also like to thank my sponsors and supporters PPC CAPITAL LLC, Sun2Go.com, forwarriorwithin.com, fullarmorclothing.com, Inner Beast Sportswear & Team Terry Brooklyn MMA.
It has been our pleasure to introduce you all to Anthony “The Tiger” Cruz and hopefully reading this has been as much fun for you as it was for us. Anthony is a really down to earth guy and very approachable. Make sure to follow him on Twitter as he interacts with all his fans is very knowledgeable about everything MMA (@Tigerfanclub). We will be keeping our eye on The Tiger and hopefully you are too because the sky is the limit for him!