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NATIONAL CHAMP SHARES WITH MMA PROS

National wrestling champion Jose Cruz III is back home sharing his skills with Guam’s best MMA athletes.

By Patrick Lujan

It wasn’t too long ago when Guam had to import high-level athletes to help train our locals.

Now we are a little more self-sustaining.

After graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in May, NAIA National Wrestling Champion Jose Cruz III is back home and sharing his skills with none other than our local mixed martial artists.

Just recently, Cruz bumped into UFC fighter Jon Tuck and the training sessions began shortly thereafter.

“I met Jon randomly at Paradise Fitness in Agana,” said the four-year collegiate wrestler. “He had just won his fight in the Philippines so we talked about that and talked about my national championship match. We set up at time so we can train and I can show him my wrestling game. So we got together at Spike and rolled on the mat.”

“It’s awesome to see an island boy win a national championship in wrestling,” Tuck added. “I reached out to him about training together because he is a high-level wrestler and the fact that he is fresh as a competitor competing in college.

“It’s been good to get on the mat, sharing knowledge with him. Getting in the rounds and being able to add different levels to my game will help me grow along with the other wrestlers.”

Cruz finished his senior year with a 32-2 record, beating the defending NAIA champion in the 184-lb. division in the finals.

He’s always wanted to give back to the island all that wrestling has taught him. So far, he’s been giving back to the highest level in our local MMA athletes such as Tuck, PXC champion Kyle Aguon, Ryan Bigler and several others.

“The wrestling is good but I can make them better,” Cruz said. “The thing I like about the guys are that they are all fairly strong! I haven’t been impressed with their wrestling but I have a good feeling that they will use the skill I give them to their advantage in their fights. We are working a lot in the stand up game, throws and takedowns.”

NAIA National Wrestling Champion Jose Cruz III has been helping out fellow Guam wrestlers and MMA athletes at Spike 22 gym. (L-R): Matt Aguigui, Hawaii State Championship 2nd place, Jon Tuck, Jose Cruz, Kyle Aguon and Robert Wusstig

NAIA National Wrestling Champion Jose Cruz III has been helping out fellow Guam wrestlers and MMA athletes at Spike 22 gym. (L-R): Matt Aguigui, Hawaii State Championship 2nd place, Jon Tuck, Jose Cruz, Kyle Aguon and Robert Wusstig

Transition to MMA?

As for a transition to MMA for Cruz, now is not the right time.

“I’m not looking to train for MMA right now, maybe later on in life.”

 But once he’s ready…

“Once he is more familiar with the MMA game we will be able to open up more of the box when it comes to details and applying wrestling to a fight. That’s where it starts to become exciting. Maybe he will even fall in love with MMA and give a run for it,” Tuck said about the 22-year-old wrestling champ.

“The transition would be easy for him because he’s a high-level wrestler and has all the tools around him. He used to box which he just has to polish and I could teach him Jiu Jitsu. So it all works out for all of us.”

And if he did, Cruz would be following in the footsteps of some world-class athletes into the world of mixed martial arts. 

Top 10 Wrestlers in MMA (Sherdog)

#1 Jon Jones (JC National Champion)

#2 Daniel Cormier (2-time JC National Champion, Div I All-American, 2004 Olympian)

#3 Khabib Nurmagomedov

#4 Cain Velasquez (JC National Champion, 2-time Div I All-American)

#5 Jose Aldo (no formal wrestling)

#6 Ben Askren (4-time Div I All-American, 2-time National Champion, 2008 Olympian)

#7 Chad Mendes (2-time Div I All-American)

#8 Demetrious Johnson (no collegiate wrestling)

#9 Chris Weidman (2-time Div I All-American)

#10 Frankie Edgar (4-time Div I National qualifier)

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Sports legend Joe Taitano used to run to school at JFK from his Yigo home and back. He continued this routine up to 1979 when he’d run from home to GW gym and back to practice for the South Pacific Games with the national basketball team. Guam went on to win its second straight SPG gold medal.

 

 

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