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2/25/13 5:25 PM
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This is the tenth in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities.  For this special edition, we’re featuring two interviews, both with UFC lightweights and TUF 15 competitors, Joe Proctor and Daron Cruickshank.  Besides both being on Team Faber during TUF 15, these two friends have a few other things in common.  They were both eliminated on the show by losing to Team Cruz’ fighter, James Vick, they both won their UFC debuts at the TUF 15 Finale, and they are both fighting at upcoming UFC events out East (Cruickshank at UFC 158 in Montreal and Proctor at UFC 159 in New Jersey).  Please enjoy the conversations below.

JOE PROCTOR


Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts?

Joe Proctor: My first experience with martial arts was going to my friend, Joe Cushman’s, MMA fights.  I always thought he was crazy to be competing in something like that.

JB: What athletes did you admire when you were growing up and what about them did you admire?

JP: The athletes I admired were mainly hockey players like Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr - both great athletes and great hockey players.  Hockey was the first sport I got into, at age 4, and I still play it to this day.  You have to be in such a different shape than in MMA.

JB: What do you recall about your family and friends' reactions when they found out that you would be fighting?

JP: When I told people that I was fighting, I think they were as shocked as I was.  Growing up, I was never an aggressive person and hated conflict, so you can see how they would be surprised at my choice to fight.

JB: As you began to train seriously, and prepare for fights, how did you balance your time so that you could improve and still pay your bills?

JP: When I started getting serious about training and fighting, it wasn't easy balancing work, training, and having an actual life, but if it was easy, everyone would do it.  I knew that if it was something I wanted, it wasn't going to just fall into my lap.  I learned how to buckle down from my dad.  He always made me work for what I wanted and this was no different.

JB: What do you remember most about your first amateur fight and how prepared were you that day?

JP: In my first amateur fight I remember thinking it was going to be like a training pace, but after the second round, I realized that wasn't the case.  I actually remember saying to my corner, Joe Lauzon, "I don't want to be here anymore," and he said, “Well go out and finish him.”  And I did that.  I went out and snatched up a guillotine and immediately fell in love with fighting.  It was the greatest feeling having my hand raised.

JB: TUF 15 was the first, and likely last, live season, and therefore it was much longer than the others. How did you endure such a lengthy stay for that show?  And what did you think about your training and your performances on the show?

JP: The live season was awesome. I got to actually get to know the guys and really connect with them.  If I could do it again, I would in a second.  It was awesome training with some of the best coaches.  Faber, Justin Buchholz, and TJ Dillashaw were awesome coaches for me and great training partners.  I believe my game escalated tremendously from being on the show and being with those guys.  They are a great bunch of guys and made every training session fun.

JB: In retrospect, your team on TUF 15 was stacked.  Team Faber had you, John Cofer, Daron Cruickshank, Al Iaquinta, Cristiano Marcello, Andy Ogle, Chris Saunders, and season champion, Michael Chiesa. What friendships did you make on the show, and who are you still in touch with?

JP: I can honestly say that every person you just mentioned is a great friend of mine.  I try to talk to everyone still, but it's hard being in different countries.  I do talk with Daron, Chris, Al and Mike still.  It's good keeping in touch and staying friends.

JB: Speaking of Team Faber, you're getting a fight with teammate, Al Iaquinta, out here on the East Coast, this April, at UFC 159 in New Jersey.  What's it going to be like for you to fight within driving distance of Pembroke, MA?

JP: I got scheduled to fight Al in New Jersey.  I have tremendous respect for Al and his skills, but we both spoke and understand it’s business.  I expect him to bring his A-game and I know that I am going to bring mine.  So it'll be a great fight.  As for being so close to home, that’s awesome.  There will be more family and friends that can actually come watch me in person doing what I train everyday to do.  So I am extremely excited to be fighting on the East Coast.

JB: And more importantly, perhaps, what's it going to be like to fight Iaquinta in his home base of Jersey?

JP: Fighting Al is going to be a war.  We trained together for three months and we've both elevated our games so it will be interesting.  You know what you get when you get two Easy Coast guys in a closed cage...A WAR!

JB: Last question, Joe, and thank you so much for doing this.  What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?

JP: Being a fighter is awesome, especially at this level.  I never realized how much people look up to you until recently.  It's a great feeling having younger kids excited to meet you and being able to make their day.  Being a fighter, to me, is more than just training and fighting.  It’s being a role model and doing things to help others that you couldn't have done without that "fame."  Being a fighter at this level is a dream come true, and it makes me train harder every time so that I can stay at this level and keep doing what I love.
---

DARON CRUICKSHANK

Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts?

Daron Cruickshank: I grew up with martial arts.  My dad taught me everything I know, and my mom was teaching kickboxing classes when I was still in her belly.  I was probably kicking before I was walking.  I started early with wrestling and continued it throughout college. 

JB: What athletes did you admire when you were growing up and what about them did you admire?

DC: Like any martial artist, I grew up watching Bruce Lee and Benny the Jet.  They were skilled, exciting, versatile, and everything I hope to be as a martial artist.

JB: What do you recall about your family and friends' reactions when they found out that you would be fighting?

DC: Like I said, I grew up doing this.  I never really just decided overnight that I would start fighting.  So naturally there was no surprise when I started competing.  Everyone around me is supportive and involved.

JB: As you began to train seriously, and prepare for fights, how did you balance your time so that you could improve and still pay your bills?

DC: I worked a lot of odd jobs while I trained during school.  I worked at a packing plant, a lumber yard, and I was one of those guys that bring the inflatable bouncy houses to private parties and carnivals.  I did my best to make it through college with the help of student loans and other little odd jobs.  Everything worked out for me, and I'm happy I chose to train full-time now.

JB: What do you remember most about your first amateur fight and how prepared were you that day?

DC: I was not doing amateur fights all that long before I went pro.  I knew that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life, so I wanted to take the next step as soon as I could.  As far as being nervous, I never get too nervous.  I always try to tell myself to be ready for anything, and if I want to win, I have to lay my life down.

JB: TUF 15 was the first, and likely last, live season, and therefore it was much longer than the others. How did you endure such a lengthy stay for that show?   And what did you think about your training and your performance on the show?

DC: Some people might say it’s hard to be that isolated for so long because we had no TV, no radio, no books, nothing.  For me though, I was in a house, rent-free, with unlimited food and training partners, doing what I love to do for 24-hours-a-day with no distractions.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Obviously I wish my season had played out differently for me and that I would have had time to display my skills, but I have to take it for what it was.  I learned a lesson and that can be just as valuable to me as a win.

JB: In retrospect, your team on TUF 15 was stacked. Team Faber had you, John Cofer, Joe Proctor, Al Iaquinta, Cristiano Marcello, Andy Ogle, Chris Saunders, and season champion, Michael Chiesa.  What friendships did you make on the show, and who are you still in touch with?

DC: I'm so happy that I was on the blue team.  I couldn't have asked for better training partners and friends.  I still talk to everyone from my team as much as I can, and anytime they fight, I'm always rooting for them.  The whole house was full of good guys, both personally and athletically, and I'm a better fighter for having met them.

JB: You are 2-0 in the UFC.  What's helped you to be successful thus far?

DC: I train with a variety of people that keep me sharp and evolving.  I have different people that teach me different skills that I use in my arsenal.  I like to take different aspects and tools from different styles and try them all.  Being surprising is always an advantage.  I do this for a living and I do this for fun, and when the two are put together, you're pretty much unstoppable.

JB: Your next fight is against John Makdessi at UFC 158 in March.  What do you think about that match-up and fighting a Canadian on his home turf?

DC: This isn't my first rodeo in Canada.  A lot of people don't know this, but I've fought TUF 16's Mike Ricci on his home turf.  I'm used to being the underdog and in fact I kind of like it.  This is going to be an awesome fight in March.  We're both strong stand up guys with a lot to put out there and it’s going to be a war.  For sure it will not be something you want to miss.

JB: Last question, Daron, and thank you so much for doing this.  What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?

DC: Fighting means everything to me.  People have different niches in life.  Some are scientists.  Some are preachers.  I kick peoples’ faces off.
---

Thanks so much for reading and please follow @JoeProctor, @Cruickshank155, and @jackjohnbrown on Twitter.

Special thanks to @KirikJenness for @theUG

Keep checking the UG for the next Jack Brown Interview, a special double interview with UFC lightweights and TUF 15 teammates, Joe Proctor and Daron Cruickshan

Previous interviews:
#1    Dan Hardy
#2    Rose Namajunas
#3    Joe Lauzon
#4    War Machine
#5    Tom Lawlor
#6    Mike DolceDiet
#7    Reggie Warren
#8    Bas Rutten
#9    Bobby Razak


3/21/13 2:18 PM
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3/21/13 10:28 PM
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Joe Proctor vs. Al Iaquinta - UFC 159 Phone Post

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