Dominick Cruz’ coach, Eric Del Fierro, revealed in a recent interview that the MMA veteran will definitely show great improvements when he meets TJ Dillashaw inside the cage for the title.
Cruz was reported to face a series of unfortunate events when he had to go through injury after injury before having the chance to get back in the cage today. He even had to undergo two separate rehabilitation sessions just to get back on his feet. Del Fierro, however, clarified that Cruz and his camp didn’t have to drastically change the training game plan. In fact, they still went to sparring sessions just like when Cruz was still the bantamweight champion.
“Obviously things have changed through the years, for sure. And [Cruz]’s style has evolved as well. Even through his injuries, the time off, he was training. People say, ‘oh, he hasn’t trained, he hasn’t done anything’…it’s not like this guy was sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons. He was training. And there’s been limitations to what he was doing at that time, but he still kept evolving. His grappling got better, his wrestling got better, and there are probably certain moves that he doesn’t do the same as he did before. The kid’s had two or three broken hands, an elbow injury, shoulder injuries, broken ribs, you name it, he’s had it. So, yeah, he’s had to adjust and change his style to progress,” Del Fierro said.
Just like any other MMA fight, Cruz and Dillashaw got into a series of verbal exchanges, but it was obvious that Cruz did a better job on this aspect. Like what Conor McGregor did to Jose Aldo where he played mind games with the former MMA champion, a lot of spectators are thinking that Cruz is doing the same thing to Dillashaw. Del Fierro admitted that it might be possible Cruz is getting into that strategy, but he thinks Dillashaw is mentally strong.
“I think it plays a factor. I think T.J.’s pretty confident in his skills that isn’t that big of a factor. I think he’s fought in a big spotlight before. I think the challenge for T.J. is knowing that Dominick is coming off such a huge layoff, and everybody expects you to perform whereas Dominick has all the odds against him,” he said.
When Del Fierro was asked if Cruz would show the same fire as what he did when he went up against Mizugaki a few years ago, Cruz’ coach confidently said that the former MMA champion might actually be better.
“I would say he’s back to his WEC days mentally. He’s focused. I mean, he’s focused, and he knows what he has to do. This is not an easy opponent by any means, but nothing that he hasn’t seen before. And the thing about predictions, and the thing about ‘I’m going to do this to Dominick, I’m going to do that to Dominick,’ everybody says the same thing. Dominick has a gift. Not ‘coach Eric taught him this.’ He has a gift that he makes adjustments in a fight by himself. Sure, there’s four coaches in a corner yelling sh*t, but he’s in there making adjustments. He’s in there making the reads. And he does it with everybody. I can change sparring partners every minute of a round, and within 10 to 30 seconds he’s already adjusted to the guy. Literally it comes down to Dominick showing up, adjusting, and just getting after it. He’s gifted for sure,” Del Fierro added.