I have fought this fight 100 times in my head, and the only thing that is the same is that my hand gets raised.
Interview by: AJ Hoffman
Aaron Croon has established himself as one of the top amateur fighters in the city, as proven by his rankings on our site. (#1 145 lbs. – #8 pound for pound) He will face one of his steepest tests on Friday night at Cage Combat 3 as he steps up in weight class to fight for the 155 lb. title against Paradigm’s Hossan Walker. We had a chance to sit down with Aaron before the fight.
TCD: So, the first thing I notice about you is how tall you are, especially for a featherweight guy. How tall are you exactly? Have any of your opponents been even close to you in that department?
Croon: I am 6’2”. The tallest guy I have gone against is probably about 5’8″ or 5’9″. It’s good to have that height advantage though. I use it a lot in my game.
Croon: The only real disadvantage is that you have to really perfect your techniques with your submission game. You can’t be sloppy with that stuff.
TCD: How long have you been training for?
Croon: I got into martial arts when I was really young. There was a movie I watched when I was a kid called Northern Kicks and Southern Fists. After watching that I was hooked on martial arts. Later on, I saw the UFC and saw skinny guys like Royce Gracie doing well, and I thought to myself that I could do this. In 2007 a co-worker introduced me to Travis (Tooke) and I haven’t left since.
TCD: What do you think your biggest strengths are with your game?
Azeredo: Definitely my ground game. My standup is improving though.I am working on it every day with guys like Andrew Craig, Lewis Wood and Jace Pitre, so I am getting better. But right now the ground is definitely my strength.
TCD: Friday you are fighting for the 155 lb. title, despite the fact your last couple of bouts have been at 145. What made you want to jump up a weight class for this one?
Croon: My first two fights were at 155, but my last two have been at 145. Hossan was supposed to fight Cody Phillips, who got hurt. They couldn’t find a fight for him, so I volunteered to fight him. I don’t have much of a cut at 155. I can just miss breakfast and be ok there. In a way it’s an advantage, but there are a lot of guys walking around at 170. Those guys lose strength cutting down though, and I don’t have to deal with that.
TCD: How is it to have another top amateur like G Moreira, not only as a training partner, but as the co-main event and fighting for a title on the same card as you?
Croon: It’s really cool. We started right around the same time. Maybe a week apart. Now we have both done really well in competition, and we are both fighting in title fights in the same night. It is just really cool that we are both peaking at the same time.
TCD: Between you, Moreira, Levi (West), Eric (Garcia) and Justin (Castillo), Team Tooke has put together a pretty competitive amateur crew. How longuntil Team Tooke makes a big splash on the pro scene, seeing as only Andrew Craig and Jace Pitre are fighting pro right now?
Croon: It’s definitely gonna happen. The only reason we haven’t made a splash on the pro scene yet, is that we haven’t gone pro yet. We are all working on our skills and getting everything right. If not this year, the beginning of next year, we are going to be a power on the professional scene in Houston.
TCD: What do you know about your opponent, Hossan Walker? What are his strengths and how do you feel you match up?
Croon: He pushes the pace a lot. He likes to take guys down. If he takes me down he is going into my strength and playing into his biggest weakness. I am preparing for him to go 100% and push the pace. I am ready to push the pace right back at him. I think it is going to be a really good fight.
TCD: How important is it for you to be a champion?
Croon: Right now, at the amateur level, I just want to fight tough guys. I stepped up to fight Hossan because he is ranked and he is known as a tough guy. I want to test myself and prove myself against a tough guy. Fighting for a title is really cool, but it comes second to getting the reps I need against tough guys right now.
TCD: How many more amateur fights do you want to take before you move up and fight pro?
Croon: I’m not in a rush. I see these guys have a couple of fights as an amateur and move up and they aren’t ready. I really want to fight for a 145 lb. title. I am just doing this 155 lb. fight as like a bonus. I really want to match myself up against the best guys in my weight class. Hopefully I will do that by the end of the year, and then maybe I will be ready to move up and go pro.
TCD: Do you want to be a full time, professional fighter?
Croon: I would like to do that, but I have so much on my plate right now. I have a family, a full time job, school. It’s hard to get in here to train enough to make that my full time job. That is the goal eventually. It sounds really cool to be able to train and fight full time. Maybe The Ultimate Fighter will come calling.
TCD: Speaking of TUF, how cool is it that the UFC brought in the lighter weight guys?
Croon: I think it’s really cool. I love that those guys are getting an opportunity to fight on the biggest stage. If I ever do fight at that level, it would be at 145, so it’s really cool that you can do that now. Of course, then I look and see Jose Aldo, and damn…
TCD: Who do you look at and try and base your game on?
Croon: Andrew Craig for one. He is a guy who just works super hard and trains with all the best guys. Angel Huerta, who is a true martial artist. He is a really nice guy, and a true martial artist. I really look up to that. Then you have guys like Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. Guys who win. Guys who obviously work really hard to get where they are. Every time I watch UFC Primetime or something, I get pumped up. I want to go train.
TCD: How do you see this fight going for you?
Croon: You can try and predict all you want, but fights are unpredictable. I have fought this fight 100 times in my head, and the only thing that is the same is that my hand gets raised. I don’t know how yet, but I see me winning.
TCD: Anyone you want to thank?
Croon: Yeah. A-1 Barbers, Precision Shooting Instruction, my employer, Labrader Nutrition, who let me take off the time to fight. I also want to thank my wife for having my back, and of course my Team Tooke family. All the coaches and all my training partners. And of course thecagedoor.net.
TCD: Good luck on Friday Aaron.