After a chaotic 2013 that saw him fight eight times, bantamweight Kevin “Hard-Hitting Hillbilly” Croom returned from a brief layoff earlier this year with a win over Bryan Goldsby for Titan FC.
The win over Goldsby proved a bigger eye-opener than anything Croom had come across last year.
“I got to learn a lot of good lessons and I still go the win, which is super-awesome, because most often it’s from a loss you learn the most from,” Croom told MMAWeekly.com.
“I had some new experiences in that one, like he hit me hard and I was kind of dazed, so I spend a good portion of that fight just trying to keep coming. I’ve had nearly 40 fights altogether and I’d never been put in that position before.”
As Croom points out, with strife and success comes the realization that he can soldier through difficulty and come out the better on the other side.
“I really had to work hard for that one,” he said. “My confidence is up and I know wherever (a fight) goes, I can keep going, and that’s nice.”
Croom’s most difficult fight came after a bit of respite he had from December to February, which was needed after fighting at such a break-neck pace earlier in the year.
“I definitely needed it,” he said of his break. “I got to spend some time with my family, went snowboarding, and had some me time, which is nice because I haven’t really had the last year and a half.
“I came back down to Albuquerque to the gym and I couldn’t wait to start working again.”
With nine straight wins behind him, Croom was set to take on Anthony Birchak at MFC 40 on May 9 in Edmonton, Albert, Canada, for the promotion’s bantamweight championship, but an injury to his opponent has changed those plans.
Now Croom (14-4) will take on Jesse Brock (16-8) in a three-round title eliminator.
“I signed on with the MFC to fight for the belt; that’s why I’m here. So that’s the only thing that kind of bugs me,” said Croom. “As far the opponent switch goes, it’s cool. I’ve been training hard, I’m at the top of my game, and I’m going to beat anybody they put in front of me.
“(Brock is) super-tough and is a good wrestler, so I definitely do not want him to get ahold of me because if he does, he’s not going to let go. It doesn’t really change anything for me.”
Even though the title is no longer on the line, with the exposure Croom will get on May 9, his career should advance as long as he goes out and performs well against Brock.
“It’s all big fights nowadays,” said Croom. “Every fight’s the biggest.
“(Other promotions) are looking at me and everyone knows it, but it’s not like there’s any pressure because this is what I do. I fight. It’s the same thing as everything else: I go to the gym, I train my ass off; I get in the cage and I fight my ass off.”