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THACKERVILLE, Okla. – When Kyle Crutchmer wrapped up his collegiate wrestling career at the esteemed Oklahoma State University, he went through a courting process.
With the MMA world waiting for him, the standout wrestler from Oklahoma already had spent some time helping train former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. He knew he’d have virtually as many options as he wanted for where to set up shop to start his own MMA career.
Two of the teams that vied to get him as a member were Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. and American Kickboxing Academy, not far away in San Jose. Both camps have standout wrestlers in the ranks.
Crutchmer first spent some time at Alpha Male, which was founded by former WEC champ and several-time UFC title challenger Urijah Faber. But it was while he was riding in a car with Faber through Sacramento that Crutchmer found himself in a bit of an awkward situation.
With Faber at the wheel, Crutchmer’s phone rang. It was Daniel Cormier, the former two-division UFC champion and fellow Oklahoma State wrestling alum who also is the head wrestling coach at AKA.
In the video above, Crutchmer breaks down what happened on that call – and why he ultimately decided AKA was the best fit for him on the front end of his pro career.
On Friday, Crutchmer (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) makes his big-league MMA debut at Bellator 233 against short-notice opponent Robert Gidron (4-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA). Gidron stepped in for Antonio Jones, who pulled out just days before the welterweight fight. Gidron missed weight by nearly five pounds, but the fight will go on at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla. The main card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN following prelims, including Crutchmer vs. Gidron, on MMA Junkie.
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