After spending much of the last four years in the UFC, lightweight veteran Daron Cruickshank was released by the company early in 2016 and quickly found himself heading to Japan to fight for RIZIN.
In April, Cruickshank was able to topple Shinji Sasaki at RIZIN 1 by first-round TKO, thus ending a three-fight losing streak, and giving him an opportunity to build a new fan base in Japan.
“It was definitely a change of pace,” Cruickshank told MMAWeekly.com. “It was my first fight out of the UFC and my first fight in Japan. That was actually really cool.
“Fighting in Japan is totally different than fighting anywhere else in the world. The fans are quiet and are really watching your every move and study you. They rarely boo. They rarely cheer actually, unless something crazy happens. That was definitely different than what I’m used to.”
Cruickshank was able to keep a positive outlook after his UFC release, being that he is the type of person that no matter the adversity, he refuses to let anything hold him back for too long.
“I tried to keep a goldfish memory, but I did have three losses in a row, which is unfortunate, but you can’t keep me down,” he said. “I always get up and try again. That’s how I’ve always been. That’s what I’m doing.”
For his return to RIZIN on the promotion’s Grand Prix 2016: First Round event, Cruickshank (17-8) takes on former K-1 MAX kickboxing champion Andy Souwer (1-0) in a main card 156-pound bout on Sept. 25 in Saitama, Japan.
“He’s accomplished in his own sport, but he’s in a different sport now,” said Cruickshank of Souwer. “This is my sport. I have 20-something MMA fights, and with amateurs 30-something fights. I think it’s going to be a big eye opener.
“I don’t think he’s fought anybody at my caliber yet, at least with where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I’m going to break him down. Wherever it goes, I’m going to be more experienced.”
Back on the winning path, Cruickshank is eager to keep things rolling, and looks to return to action again before the year is out.
“I try to fight as often as possible,” she said. “If you look at my career, I’ve had three to five fights every single year since I’ve started. I have to fight to make money. As long as I’m not injured and I’m healthy, I’ll take fights all the time.”