During his long stretches of inactivity during his fighting career, Dominick Cruz has asserted himself as another kind of MMA expert. The ‘Dominator’ has carved out a role for himself both as a talking head in the FS1 booth between fights, and as a color commentary man, calling bouts live from cage-side for the UFC.
Despite his occasional tendency to get caught up in the narrative details of specific techniques (underhooks), he’s generally acquitted himself quite well. Displaying the deep technical understanding of the game that made him both a title holder and a perennial title contender. So, when he turned his eyes to Daniel Cormier’s shocking first round KO of Stipe Miocic from UFC 226, you knew what Cruz had to say was going to be worth a look (transcript in part via MMA Fighting).
“And right off the bat Stipe came across the fence and started punching combinations. And what you do is, you grab.” Cruz explained on the Monday Morning Analyst with Luke Thomas. “You grab the top of the head and you grab underhook on the other side. And what that does is it gives Stipe the underhook, but it also allows (Cormier) to grab the uppercut and fire on the opposite side. So it’s kind of a weird feeling for Stipe. Most people don’t give underhooks like that, most of the time it’s like there’s a fight there.
“He pretty much gave Stipe his back, and then ran to the fence. And all that does is it keeps him from getting punched. And it allows him to be in the grappling transitions where he can start making feels on the opening for Stipe as the fight will move on, in that clinch. Because Cormier wants to do everything he does from the over-under clinch or from the pocket. If he stays at distance or at range with Stipe, it’s bad news. So, what’s really intelligent about it is, by giving the underhook, you’re basically telling Stipe, ‘Here’s the position, take it.’ And so Stipe won’t steer away and go back to space. He’ll stay connected to DC, where DC wants him, instead of punching him from the outside with his size and range and length.
“So, it was really intelligent because it was a trap. The whole thing was a big trap,” Cruz explained. “DC just wanted to grapple with Stipe to get the feel of the Greco. Now in that last sequence, it’s not that DC was driving the underhook. He gave the underhook. So if you watch, you’ll see that he’s right back to that very first sequence that the fight started out with, where he pretty much puts that left hand almost on the back of Stipe’s neck. And by doing that, he can switch to an uppercut with the right hand if he wants to. But what Stipe did is what most people would do, he went and tried to jack the underhook up because that’s how you gain control on a shorter man. DC ‘limp-armed’ Stipe when he tried to jack him up, and a ‘limp arm’ is like when you just sag the arm back through and you come around the waist of Stipe.
“By doing that, Stipe has to move away from the tight waist that DC grabbed, because if DC grabbed that tight waist he now has a sequence to throw Stipe. So as he walked away from the tight waist of Daniel Cormier, he walked into the right hand of Daniel Cormier, which actually makes it more powerful and harder to defend. It’s just dirty boxing 101 with Greco Roman wrestling and it was just in fluidity and it was beautiful.”
Cruz hasn’t been seen in the cage since losing the bantamweight title to Cody Garbrandt in December of 2016. He was booked for a fight against Jimmie Rivera a year later, but was pulled from the card after suffering a broken arm. No word yet on when he’ll be making his potential return to the cage, or against whom. As recently as June he has said that he hopes to return before the end of 2018, but is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury.