ONE STEP CLOSER: Jim “The Brute” Crute vs. Ryan “Superman” Spann

Pictured: Jim Crute (Credit: Jasmin Frank, Fight News Australia)

Achieving success in the UFC’s modern era requires special talent and Jimmy Crute possesses exactly that. The young Bendigo native is trained by Stewart Moulden and Sam Greco, he rose through the local ranks on Australia’s premier mixed martial arts promotion, Hex Fight Series; where he went undefeated in seven bouts, while finishing four of those opponents inside the first-round on his way to capturing and defending the promotion’s light-heavyweight title.

The Brute then transported his talents to Las Vegas, where he competed on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The young undefeated star seemed rigid during the early parts of that contest. Commentator and UFC fighter Paul Felder noted that Crute was displaying signs of carrying nervous energy into the cage.

It was obvious to most watching that Felder was right. That pivotal bout took place in July of 2018, Jim Crute had only just turned twenty-two a few months earlier and despite having ten years of martial arts experience at his disposal, he was fighting in front of UFC President Dana White who sat cage-side with wide eyes and even larger expectations.

This was Crute’s chance at realizing his childhood dream. The same dream that started a decade earlier when he was just twelve years old, the dream of fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

To do so he would have to go through another highly skilled fighter, in front of the most powerful man in the business. No easy feat, even for a brutally skilled undefeated mixed martial artist.

During the contest the more the round timer clicked, the more Crute seemed to loosen up. Around four minutes into the bout, the light heavyweight powerhouse scored an impressive TKO finish, rocking his opponent with a devastating left hook before moving in for the kill. The referee saved Crute’s opponent from further punishment and Crute fell to the canvas in what appeared to be an expressive mixture of relief and pure excitement.

Jim Crute secures the win and earns a UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series

Shortly after the bout, UFC President Dana White enthusiastically selected Crute for a UFC contract. The most powerful man in the business proclaimed that the young Aussie fighter was the clear standout on the day. Then, just over four months later, The Brute made his UFC debut. This time, he was fighting in his home country, at UFC Fight Night 142 in Adelaide. This opponent was even more dangerous than the last; when Crute walked to the cage for his UFC debut in December of 2018, waiting for him inside the octagon was a man who had already amassed four-fights for the world’s largest MMA promotion, Scotland’s, Paul Craig.

As most MMA fans know, there is a common curse that has plagued many a debuting UFC combatant, a phenomenon known as “Octagon jitters”. Due to his age, and the fact that he was making his debut in front of his home country in a bout that opened the main card of a UFC Fight Night, this contest had all the ingredients to plague Jim Crute with the aforementioned jitters.

The opening horn sounded and Crute looked to be perfectly comfortable in the early parts of the first round, stalking Craig while throwing hard shots at the Scotsman. About a minute into the round, Craig completed a successful double-leg takedown. Crute, a BJJ brown belt, quickly reversed the position and ended up on top of Craig. The horn sounded to signify the end of the round and most of Crute’s fans were confident that he’d done enough to secure a 10-9 score in his favor.

During the one-minute break, Crute’s corner seemed confident as Sam Greco offered technical advice along with some complimentary encouragement. Jimmy came out firing in the second round, throwing hard leather at his Scottish opponent. Then, Craig attacked Crute with a relentless grappling offense, pressuring Crute and scoring takedowns. Suddenly, a warning sign, Crute’s sprawl was slow and his scrambling ability seemed to be subpar to what his fans were used to seeing. Then, with some deep breaths on display from the youngster, it was obvious that the dreaded Octagon jitters had, in fact, arrived.

Pictured: Jim Crute (Credit: Jasmin Frank, Fight News Australia)

In reality, those jitters were always there, lying dormant just under the radar. They revealed themselves in one of their most common forms, the terrifying, yet incredibly common, adrenaline dump. While Crute did seem to be lacking his usual explosiveness, the young Aussie big man fought through the dilemma, showing a champion’s heart and impressively scoring with offense of his own, before eventually securing a third-round submission victory via Kimura.  Not only did Jim Crute score a victory in his UFC debut, but he also got the finish.

In his post-fight interview, Crute screamed emphatically into the microphone, “This is only the beginning, Melbourne where you at? Feb 10”.

Pictured: Jim Crute (Credit: Jasmin Frank, Fight News Australia)

The Brute was calling for a chance to compete on the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled in his home state, where fellow Aussie Robert Whittaker is set to defend his middleweight title on his home turf against dangerous challenger, Kelvin Gastelum. This time, once more, Crute’s dream became reality.

Jim Crute’s bout with Paul Craig was a hard-fought victory. An impressive display of determination and in a way, the perfect fight for him. Experience is invaluable for a mixed martial artist and during his UFC debut, Crute gained bucket loads of it. Not only did the young Aussie star achieve victory, he overcame obstacles, conquered adversity and gained nearly fifteen minutes of experience fighting under the bright lights.

That will all come in handy on February 10 when Crute will compete against his most dangerous opponent to date, Ryan “Superman” Spann. Spann is another UFC fighter who also made his way to the promotion through Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

Spann took just twenty-six seconds to score a submission victory over his opponent before going on to win his UFC debut via unanimous decision. The American submission specialist is a dangerously skilled with fifteen professional victories to his name, including thirteen stoppages, twelve of those have come in the first round.

So far during his professional career, Crute has overcome any adversity that he has faced. On February 10th, the Victorian powerhouse will be facing his most dangerous opponent to date, in his home state, on pay-per-view. The lights will be shining brighter than ever, and hopefully for him and his fans, so will Jim “The Brute” Crute.

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Chris is an Australian writer and martial artist. He is an ADCC Melbourne Open Heavyweight Gold Medalist.