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MMA On the Rise: Calley Kruger, the Midwest’s Next Big Star?

Posted on by Al Yu

Calley Kruger is a fighter on the rise.

Calley Kruger

Calley Kruger

The Midwest has always been a breeding ground for up-and-coming fighters and has produced many big names such as Jeff Curran, Clay Guida, and Matt Hughes.  Calley Kruger may one day add his name to the list of accomplished fighters.

Born and raised in Parkersburg, Iowa, Kruger has been enamored with the sport for quite some time.  A carpenter by day, Calley balances his evenings between spending time with his wife and two children and training at the gym.

The Team ROC fighter started wrestling as a young boy and earned a state wrestling championship in his senior year.  He went on to wrestle for Waldorf College and became a Junior College All-American.

“A friend of mine had been going to jiu-jitsu and started fighting.  He was looking for a training partner and I was really missing wrestling.  So I started going to class with him and I fell in love with the sport.  It wasn’t until about a year later that I took my first fight.  Now I am addicted,” said Kruger.

Like all sports, mixed martial arts has produced many superstars.  Some fighters credit their career inspiration to those athletes. Kruger gets his inspiration from hard working fighters all over the world.

“I don’t have one particular person that I look up to,” revealed the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt under Jeff Curran.  “I enjoy watching all fighters and their unique styles of fighting.  Anyone that gets into the ring and gives it their all and won’t give up is inspiring and fun to watch.  I love to see a good knockout or submission, but I also enjoy a battle over several rounds that keeps its intensity the whole time.  That is exactly what I strive to do.”

Kruger is coming off a big win over Brian Green back in April at Midwest Cage Championship 33.  Green is an MCC and Ring of Fire veteran with close to forty fights under his belt.  The victory was Kruger’s fourth in a row.

Calley Kruger

Calley Kruger

“I went into the fight with Brian Green knowing that I was the underdog and very few people expected me to win. He was the hometown guy and his name has been out there longer,” said Kruger.  “But that never bothers me. I actually prefer to go into a fight as the underdog. It just drives me that much more. I knew Brian would be good on the ground but I wasn’t afraid to take the fight there.”

Kruger finished Green with an impressive slam late into the opening round that grabbed the crowd’s attention.

“When I stood up with him the first time he felt light. He didn’t reach back for the leg so I slammed him a second time,” explained Kruger. “When I slammed him the second time, I had placed my forearm across his face and I think the impact was what knocked him out.”

Kruger trains with Team ROC under the striking tutelage of seventh degree tae kwon do black belt Russ O’Connell.  In addition, Kruger refines his grappling skills at Cedar Valley Jiu-Jitsu, studying under Greg Halsor, a Jeff Curran brown belt and a former collegiate All-American wrestler.

“When you put this many hours into training, you need to be around people that you enjoy and can learn a lot from. I am really lucky to have that.

“Training has been fantastic. My body feels more prepared than it ever has been. I have been sharpening my jiu-jitsu skills and have put a lot of focus on my stand-up. I am very lucky to have the best trainers, classmates, and teammates to train with. It definitely makes all of the difference when you are training with people that are very knowledgeable and dedicated to pushing you and making you the best you can be.”

Kruger will have an opportunity showcase his skills to a larger crowd when he meets Victor Moreno in the main event of Midwest Cage Championship 34 on Friday, June 24.

Calley Kruger

Calley Kruger

“I am expecting my fight with Victor to be the toughest one I have had yet. I think he will be in great shape and will make a great opponent; but I love a good challenge. I don’t want to fight guys I know I can beat. I am really looking forward to a tough battle and I think that is what the fans will get with this one.”

Victor Moreno is a tough veteran fighter out of Des Moines, Iowa.  Moreno has been in the cage more than 40 times in his career and has fought tough opposition such as Dustin Hazelett, Jay Hieron, and Jeremy Horn.  Kruger will once again play the roll of the underdog, but is prepared for the challenge that lies ahead.

“I have worked my tail off for this fight and have given it everything I have. It would feel like a great victory for all of the hours and hard work put in. For me it will mean taking another step toward increasingly bigger and better opponents.”

A win over Victor Moreno would present a lot of opportunities for Kruger and an impressive performance could have title implications in the near future.

“Yes, I think a win over Victor Moreno would hopefully open that door for me.  I have never fought for a title before and I would love to have the opportunity.  I have been fighting for a couple of years now and have worked my way through the ranks.  I would love for all of the preparation of years past to come together to bring me to that challenge.”

Calley Kruger understands what it takes to be a fighter.  He’s trained hard and made many sacrifices. Along with a great, yet humble attitude, Kruger’s determination and commitment to the sport makes him a fighter to watch for.  At MCC 34, Kruger has the opportunity to take his career to the next level.

“Sometimes it’s weird to think that I have fans. I just consider myself an average Joe; I just happen to like fighting. I feel really lucky to have the fan base that I do supporting me. I have so many wonderful family and friends always standing behind me, cheering me on. Their support and dedication just blows me away.”

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