When you are a current UFC champion, you would think more people would recognize you. That isn't the case with the UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. That should change starting tonight as Cruz will be coaching alongside Urijah Faber as The Ultimate Fighter Live debuts Friday tonight.
The premiere will feature 32 fighters and 16 fights and starts at 9 PM ET/PT on FX.
Cruz mentally feels that he will be nervous throughout the season, but he thrives on that.
"It's definitely something I've never experienced before," Cruz told me. "I'd say that the only way I can really be prepared for something like this is to be nervous. I mean, that's my outlook on it. Nerves keep you sharp, nerves keep you strong, nerves make me perform at my best, they'll help me coach at my best and you'll get the best out of me when I'm nervous.
"The fact I don't know what's going to be thrown at me on these episodes throughout the entire 13 weeks gives me those nerves and that's a good thing. There's no way to prepare. All you can do is be yourself, be real and show the world who I am. I think it's gunna be good because it's gunna show the world the style I fight, the way I approach fights and the way I win fights."
Unlike Faber, who said he is going to be bringing in outside help along with the guys at Team Alpha Male, Cruz is staying with his home base, Alliance MMA. And that's the way he likes it.
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"I'm going to be bringing in guys from time to time, but they are all guys from my team," Cruz said. "I haven't gotten where I'm at by myself. I'm not gunna coach these guys by myself. I'm gunna give these guys the same benefits that I've had and that's Team Alliance. All the guys I have around me to get me through these fight camps.
"Eric Del Fierro, Phil Davis, Wilson Reyes, Phil Nurse, Lloyd Irvin, the list goes on. These are all the guys that have been responsible for things I've done and we all work together to get there."
Cruz thinks the new live format is going to effect the fighters and he's going to prepare them as best as he can.
"It's just gunna be a big mental bust for these guys is the biggest thing," Cruz said. "These guys are gunna have to deal with being on the show twice the amount of time as the past contestants on the show. Really it's about staying healthy and dealing with the mind. I know I say that a lot, but that's what it is. Keeping the weight down, staying healthy, keeping your spirits up in situations and just keeping them sharp.
"It's gunna be a lot of drilling, a lot of conditioning and try to keep the body as preserved as possible because they are also going to be cutting weight potentially fighting every week. it's a little bit of a different approach, but we'll get it together and figure it out throughout the show."
Cruz has a parting shot for his rival on what he feels he will be better than Faber at this season.
"The one thing I say I'm going to be better at is just, um, I don't know," Cruz said. "I really don't know what Faber's good at."
You can listen to the entire interview here.
You can follow me on Twitter @fightclubchi.