With a call-up to Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Jim “The Brute” Crute is now just one spectacular finish away from becoming the next talented Australian to join the UFC.
The undefeated 22-year-old, who is renowned for his crushing top game and rapidly improving striking, is regarded as one of the best light heavyweight prospects not already competing in a major organization.
After defeating Doo Hwan Kim at Hex Fight Series 13, Crute will now have the chance to prove himself on the biggest stage of his career when he faces Chris Birchler on July 24.
A dominant title defense at Hex Fight Series 13
The lead-up to Crute’s most recent title defense was nothing short of chaotic. After three opponents withdrew from their scheduled bout (which Crute explains only one of them had a genuine reason), Crute was eventually matched with Doo Hwan Kim, a tough South Korean fighter who proved to be a worthy adversary.
“I knew Koreans are tough, but man I hit him… I don’t know what anyone would have to do to put him away. My hand is still not in good shape from that fight. I have to double-wrap after that fight,” Crute explained.
After only a few minutes, Crute had bloodied and battered the challenger with a flush head kick, powerful straight punches, and heavy ground and pound. Somehow, all of that wasn’t enough to remove his opponent from the cage.
It was during the second round, however, that the South Korean’s staying power was on full display.
“I kneed him as hard as I could on the sweet spot, on his jaw. He went down and somehow stayed alive. I don’t know how he stayed alive, put it that way. I think my ground and pound woke him up.”
At the end of five hard-fought rounds, Doo Hwan Kim and his granite chin had consumed a five-round buffet of strikes, and Jimmy Crute went home with his Hex Light Heavyweight Championship and a 25-minute highlight reel to add to his resume.
From chaos to Contender Series
Crute’s call-up to Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series wasn’t entirely unexpected.
“After my last fight, I knew something was going to happen but I wasn’t quite sure what it would be,” Crute said.
“I was ready for any opportunity. When my manager came in and said hey, they’ve got a name for you, a date, and a venue, I was like man, put me in! I get to perform in front of Dana White, Mick Maynard, and Sean Shelby; that’s a massive opportunity.”
Welcome to Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, where some of the best prospects outside of the UFC are selected to compete in front of White, Maynard, Shelby, and a select group of family and friends, all while a life-changing UFC contract dangles in front of them. For most of the fighters who are competing in the Contender Series, the stakes have never been higher.
If a fighter manages to have their hand raised in victory, they could score the UFC contract they’ve been wanting. If they finish their opponent, the chance of receiving that contract dramatically improves. And if they manage to finish the fight with a spectacular knockout or submission, the probability of receiving a contract skyrockets.
“If I don’t have some spectacular finish, I’m aware I’m probably not going to get a contract,” Crute shared.
And despite being aware of that fact, Jimmy Crute won’t be taking any unnecessary risks on July 24.
“I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to get an amazing finish. If it comes, it comes. I’m never in a boring fight, that’s the thing,” Crute explained.
Even then, it’s not entirely clear what White, Maynard, and Shelby are looking for.
“That guy that landed the hook kick didn’t get in, and I was very surprised by that because he looked phenomenal.”
Crute is referring to Chris Curtis’ glorious head kick knockout in the show’s first episode of 2018. Shockingly, Curtis didn’t receive a UFC contract after what is one of the most memorable knockouts of the season so far.
Crute’s decision to focus on only what he can control is a logical one.
“I’m not going to rush. I’m not going to risk myself getting caught just for a chance at a spectacular finish. You have to play it smart. Because if you lose, then you’re not getting a contract and it puts you three fight back.”
Preparing for an ‘ugly and gritty’ fight
Crute will be going up against Chris Birchler (7-3), a 31-year-old who has been competing since 2011. And unlike the Australian, Birchler won’t be stepping into the Contender Series cage with a wave of momentum behind him, as the American has dropped three of his last five bouts.
Despite this, Crute knows that he needs to be ready for what should be another valiant opponent in front of him.
“He’s just a big strong guy who fights very ugly and gritty. I have to be ready for that. I have to be ready to dig deep and push the pace when I need to.”
And if the fight heads to the mat, first-time viewers of Jimmy Crute will be treated to his usual masterclass of taxing top pressure and vicious ground and pound.
“My game plan is that if it goes to the ground, I want to get on top, I want to crush, I want to smash, and then I want to submit.”
However, while Crute’s ground game is overwhelming, it’s just one part of what makes this light heavyweight such a dangerous fighter. Thanks to Doo Hwan Kim’s spectacular durability, we were able to witness many of Crute’s striking improvements over five rounds. Training under Sam Greco, Crute has now added destructive leg kicks and body punches to his arsenal. Furthermore, considering the particular focus on Crute’s top game, the Australian wants to remind us that he is equally skilled in all aspects of grappling.
“That doesn’t mean I can’t sub people off my back. If I ever get put on my back, you’ll see,” Crute clarified.
With only three rounds to showcase his talent in front of three of the most influential men in the world of mixed martial arts, Crute wants to set a blistering pace from the opening seconds of the fight.
“I see me putting a pace that he can’t handle. We are working on specific techniques, don’t get me wrong, but the idea of it is that he won’t be able to keep up. He’s going to drown. I’ll give him a way out early, but if he wants to hold on the way out will be there through the rounds.”
“I just want to get over there and punch on already.”