Being a key part of one of Johny Hendricks’ most important training camps made Kyle Crutchmer want to transition to MMA.
Hendricks sought out Oklahoma State University wrestling standout Crutchmer to help him prepare for his welterweight title fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 167 in November 2013. Hendricks lost the bout by split decision in one of the most controversial results in UFC history.
But it was hitting the mats with such a high-level fighter ahead of a pivotal title fight that inspired Crutchmer to try his hand at MMA.
“When he was training for ‘GSP,’ he did most of his camp at Oklahoma State, so we were wrestling and doing a bunch of different things with him,” Crutchmer told MMA Junkie Radio. “I didn’t do very much MMA stuff, but I just kind of did stuff on the wall with him and helped him out with some of that. And after that I kind of was like, ‘Man, I want to do that.’ So that’s kind of what got me started in the right direction with this MMA stuff.”
Like Crutchmer, Hendricks wrestled at Oklahoma State and was one of the athletes Crutchmer looked up to. Crutchmer helped Hendricks prepare for St-Pierre’s wrestling style.
“I was actually the main guy,” Crutchmer said. “So I would come in at 2 o’clock. Practice normally started at 3, so I would do an hour before I actually started my practice just to help and give him what I could give him. I didn’t know much about MMA. I didn’t really have any jiu-jitsu or anything, but we did a lot of wall work because my go-to takedown in college was a double leg, and that’s what ‘GSP’ was kind of known for. So I gave him that feel as much as I can, and we wrestled a lot of live (sessions) together.
“He’s such an amazing person, and I got to see and be around a guy who was training for a world title fight before I even knew what I was going to do with my life. So he brought me under his wing that whole time, and it was amazing getting to train with someone like that, especially just from the wrestling standpoint of looking up to a guy like that when I was even growing up. So it was a lot of fun. But we were on his head. We came after him for sure.”
No. 9 ranked Bellator welterweight Crutchmer (8-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) will look to make it three straight when he takes on Michael Lombardo (12-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 277, which takes place April 15 in San Jose, Calif.