Connect with us

Feature

KALEB CRUZ FULFILLS UFC WISH

The dream of a UFC experience was brought to life for young Kaleb Cruz as he got to go up against his favorite fighter Frank ‘The Crank’ Camacho.

By Robert Balajadia

11-year-old middle school student Kaleb Lujan Cruz is a hardcore fan of the UFC. Cruz loves to watch the sport of MMA, talk about the UFC and has even had dreams of one day stepping into the ring.

Friday evening, Cruz’s dreams were brought to life through the Make A Wish Foundation with help from the Mariana’s own UFC star Frank ‘The Crank’ Camacho.

Kaleb ‘The Yigo Mangler’ Cruz had the entire crowd of over 100 people behind him right from the start of his entrance song “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor while Camacho was forced to settle with “Baby Shark” for his walkout song. Cruz even had his own cut men in Peter Alvarez and Mike Ulloa wrapping him up before the fight, announcer in Mark Mendiola and local MMA stars like Roque Martinez and Kyle Aguon in attendance for a full-on UFC event experience.

Cruz and Camacho went head-to-heart for three 90 second rounds of MMA action at the Spike 22 gym in Tamuning. Cruz, the heavy favorite, put on display all his MMA talents, defeating Camacho in the 3rd round after peppering the UFC star with body shots in the early rounds. Cruz would score knock downs in each round before forcing referee Wayne Mantanane to stop the fight late in the 3rd.

Kaleb admitted that Camacho was actually his favorite UFC fighter and Cruz couldn’t hold back how excited he was just to get in the ring with Camacho, after getting his hand raised in victory of course.

Kaleb Cruz defeats Frank “The Crank’ Camacho via TKO to become the new World MMA Champion. (Photo by Michael Blas)

“It’s an overwhelming experience. When [Camacho] messaged my husband Tuesday about the event I was getting goosebumps and started to cry and everything,” said Kaleb’s mother Marie Cruz as she fought to hold back tears. “I can’t thank the Make A Wish Foundation, Frank Camacho and everyone involved enough. Kaleb has been more than excited all week. He’s been really happy and he keeps sharing the news with everybody.”

“One thing I’m definitely learning from [Kaleb] is how to hype up a fight. All week Kaleb has been sticking to the narrative that he’s going to take me out! It’s so awesome and I’m so blessed to meet people like Kaleb in this line of work,” said Camacho.

A chance meeting

Earlier this year, a typical day running errands with mom turned into a day Camacho and Kaleb would never forget. Kaleb spotted Camacho in public and, with the help of his older sister, got to speak to his favorite UFC fighter. Right away, Camacho was blown away with just how much Kaleb knew about MMA.

“I knew he was very special right away. [Kaleb] was giving me info on the UFC and this kid really knew his stuff. He knew who I was which was even more special,” said Camacho.

A little time passed before Camacho and Kaleb would be reunited. Camacho was contacted by the Make A Wish Foundation about linking with Kaleb while Camacho was out in California during his Fight Camp for UFC Sweden. Camacho sent Kaleb a video of him training which prompted a one-of-a-kind response from Cruz.

“He told me if I win my fight in Stockholm that he would get me my favorite candy,” laughed Camacho.

Kaleb Cruz defeats Frank “The Crank’ Camacho via TKO to become the new World MMA Champion. (Photo by Michael Blas)

Pulling it all off

Camacho then got to work on making one of Kaleb’s dreams come true.

“I found out that [Kaleb] always wanted to be an MMA champ and I’m very blessed to be surrounded by a lot of good people. The first thing I did was contact Melchor about using Spike, then Mark Mendiola on announcing, Wayne as a referee and everyone came together to put on a full on event,” said Camacho.

In just a week’s span, Cruz vs. Camacho was the headline for Friday August 30th and Kaleb couldn’t keep any of it a secret once he got the news himself.

“I’m going to fight Frank ‘The Crank’,” is what Kaleb told his friends, teachers and just about anybody he came in contact with.

Not many believed the young dreamer until Camacho made the official announcement on his social media outlets confirming his next fight would indeed be against the ‘Yigo Mangler’ for the world title.

Camacho invited Kaleb to train with him during the week and the experience moved the humble UFC star in a way he’s never experienced.

“Kaleb’s parents didn’t know how he was going to react walking into a full-on gym with people training and they say he’s a very shy kid and thought he would shy away from it. He embraced all of it. He was shadow boxing and really getting into it! It was so cool to see that he finds the sport of MMA as his outlet… Whatever challenges he has in his life, martial arts is an outlet for him to really show who he is and you can clearly see it. I’m blessed to just share the cage with him. I just hope he doesn’t mess me up too much!,” said Camacho.

The joy expressed on Kaleb’s face after officially being announced the winner of the bout perfectly encapsulated why most people are sports fans in the first place: seeing someone overcoming obstacles and adversity, believing no dream is too big and sharing those moments, no matter in victory or defeat, with people who are most important to you.

Even if just for a moment, Kaleb Cruz will never forget the day that he was an MMA champion.

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

Ad

GPS Sports Calendar

June

July 2020

August
SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
28
29
30
1
2
3
4
Events for July

1st

No Events
Events for July

2nd

No Events
Events for July

3rd

No Events
Events for July

4th

No Events
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Events for July

5th

No Events
Events for July

6th

No Events
Events for July

7th

No Events
Events for July

8th

No Events
Events for July

9th

No Events
Events for July

10th

No Events
Events for July

11th

No Events
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
Events for July

12th

No Events
Events for July

13th

No Events
Events for July

14th

No Events
Events for July

15th

No Events
Events for July

16th

No Events
Events for July

17th

No Events
Events for July

18th

No Events
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
Events for July

19th

No Events
Events for July

20th

No Events
Events for July

21st

No Events
Events for July

22nd

No Events
Events for July

23rd

No Events
Events for July

24th

No Events
Events for July

25th

No Events
26
27
28
29
30
31
1
Events for July

26th

No Events
Events for July

27th

No Events
Events for July

28th

No Events
Events for July

29th

No Events
Events for July

30th

No Events
Events for July

31st

No Events

Foody’s 5 Fun Facts

St. John’s Knight Aarman Sachdev

Polls

Would you like to see the first ever 2020 Fantasy Baseball Drafted teams compete against each other?

View Results

DID U KNOW?

Since forming the GNYFF in 2009, the league has never gone without a season until 2020. The league announced their plans to cancel the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

COMING SOON …

ALL SPORTING EVENTS HALTED DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS ISSUE

QUICK HITS

Former Guam resident and UFC fighter Jon Delos Reyes received his jiu-jitsu black belt in Las Vegas from Professor Raul Jimenez. Congratulations JDR!

More in Feature