Kevin Croom is a fighter who one can’t not want to watch. He’s an explosive, agile fighter whose mentality and attitude in the cage is admirable. We finally got the chance to talk with him and discuss his life, lifestyle, and MMA background. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did writing it up!
Jason Przewoznik: Good Morning Kevin! Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to speak with you about your career. I just want to get started by diving right into the dirty work. Who is Kevin “The Cremlin” Croom? Tell us a little about your life and upbringing and what led you into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts…
Kevin Croom: Man you’re right, you’re not playin’ around! Who is Kevin Croom? …Just a guy trying to get by just like everyone else. I grew up in Columbia, Missouri. The only boy, with four sisters around. My father worked in construction most of my life and he raised me to be a very hard worker. I wrestled for my first 3 years of high school… I definitely got in more than my fair share of trouble as a teenager, and I graduated school half a year early ’cause the school didn’t think I would make it there another semester and I had enough credits, so they pushed me through. Stuff was not the best at home for most of my childhood, like most everyone, but I always knew my parents loved me and that definitely helped make me the positive person I am today! I have always liked fighting and been pretty good at it, so after a few years of roaming the country, I made my way back home and an Amateur MMA fight just kind of fell in my lap… So I jumped at the chance and I have never looked back! The day I found out about my first fight I changed my life and have been a fighter ever since. Before MMA, my life had no direction; I was probably on my way to jail, no lie, I was a stupid kid doing stupid shit and MMA actually gave me a purpose; …a reason to not just be another loser. MMA is and has been the greatest thing to ever happen me! It made me a complete person….how is that!? (lol)
JP: Haha, it’s amazing how something we see as ‘juvenile’; fighting… can be put into an art form [granted, the arts been around long before ‘fisticuffs’ when we were in school]…but you learn discipline, to control yourself, and keep your violence in the ring! Great having a positive father figure who taught you to work hard, without hard work – you get NOWHERE! …We’re off to a good start, Kevin! You wrestled 3 years in high school, and I assume you street fought more than an actual ‘practice’? …Did you at the time have any other training or just a wrestling background and a bad attitude? (lol)
KC: Let me say that I was pretty small growing up and I got picked on alot! So, yeah, I fought a good amount, but most of it was standing up for myself. Not saying I never picked a fight, but you know what I mean (haha). Until I started MMA, I had no formal stand up training. I learned to punch by fighting a few people at a time! (haha). I always wanted to do Martial Arts when I was a child, but my famliy could not really afford it. Ever since I was little I’ve loved anything to do with ninjas! (haha). …To this day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is like my favorite thing ever! (Haha)
JP: Haha, classic! I wanted to BE a ninja when I was younger… though – as time passed…. my dreams were crushed as I could never find a mystic forest or a ninja training ground… Was a major upset, but hey, now I’m working with fighters like yourself…It all worked out! (lol)… When and where exactly did you start training MMA? ..and what disciplines were you introduced to, formally?
KC: I started training at a hole-in-the-wall gym called, Hulett House Gym in Columbia, MO my first 6 months. I was the only member, just me and my 250 lb. trainer going at it, haha. …And you know, I am an MMA fighter, so I’ve never done Gi-Jitsu or straight Boxing …or anything, but I have done a lot of No-Gi-Jitsu and some Kickboxing.
JP: Nice, what would you say is your greatest strength in the cage?
KC: Man, honestly I’m just tough and I have alot of pride in myself and my famliy; because of that, I just wont stop! My high school wrestling coach always said, “You can’t lose a match when u never stop moving” …So I try to fight like that; never stopping, always trying to do damage, and always trying to finish! …Im a gamer!
JP: Good shit man! What’s your current fight record and at what weight?
KC: I am 5-3; I fight at 145, but all my losses have been at 155 and 135.
JP: Not bad at all! Is there any fights you’d like to share or anything you’ve learned from your losses?
KC: I mean I have definitely learned much more from losses than wins. I’ve had 28 fights and the 3 loses are definitely in my mind more than any of my 25 wins. I’ve learned I can’t just go out in the cage and try to beast-mode through a fight, you gotta fight smart, take ur time. Any fights I want to share? I guess my best fight was for Bellator, versus a very good striker, Brian Davidson. I took the fight 3 months after a knee surgery and I didn’t really have a gym to train at, at that time, so I was very rusty. This kid was really tough, hard to take down and his punches and kicks were coming from every direction! …But I just kept moving forward and finally at the end of the 2nd round, I caught him with a good right and he dropped, I took is back and choked him out for the victory. …The most important thing is just to keep moving no matter how bad you keep getting beat, u gotta keep coming forward and that will break your opponent knowing that u can take the best they have and keep moving! That fight is online at Bellator.com; Bellator 26 about 37 min into the video if u want to check it out!
JP: DAMN he tapped quick!! haha …Nice one man! So, do you still fight for Bellator? Care to share some insight on that? What’s your current state of MMA where are you headed and where are you now ?
KC: Thank you… and actually Davidson became my striking coach after that fight; we started training together a week after that fight. So, I do not have a contract with Bellator. I was offered a fight for them in October, but I was stitched up from my last fight so I could not compete. My current state of MMA is… I got a lot… A LOT of work to do (lol) …but I’m here at Jackson’s; the BEST team in the world and getting better everyday! Where am I headed? …Im in MMA for the long haul ya’ know? This sport has become a way of life for me, I breathe it! My goals, I would say, of course I want a UFC belt, but as long as I’m in a top organization and I can make enough money to support me and a family, I’ll feel content. Where am I now? …I’m 1 good fight away from greatness! I have all the skills to be a contender at any level and all I need is for the planets to align! To get the opportunity; and once I have it, I have to perform at the best of my ability! …When that happens who knows where I’ll be!
JP: Very positive way of thinking. I guess it’s safe to safe your very confident in what you do! You train at Jackson’s, a gym in which those who speak of greatness, generally refer to. What’s it like training at Jackson’s? A lot of hard work?
KC: Oh my God… I love Jackson’s so much! First off the coaches have spent a lot of time making a real team atmosphere here and I love that! We really care about our teammates here and its really nice to have such a huge group behind you. Training here is rough for sure, going to training is basically going to war every time; you know you’re going to get fucked up! Greg is an amazing coach and really explains things so fighters understand. Also with such a wealth of MMA knowledge at ur finger tips, u can ask anyone about certain techniques. I love it here.
JP: That’s a great thing to hear about a gym! Many fighters [especially up and comers] never find a gym they ‘love’, whether it be financial or any other reason and tend to stick to a ‘schedule’ rather than a lifestyle. Now, I may get off course here slightly, but I am curious, where did the nickname Cremlin come from?’
KC: Hahahah! So, I was 17, living on my own with 3 or 4 different friends my age and like I said I was pretty small then. I had just beat this kid that was much bigger than me… We were having a party and my “mentor” at the time came in and was talking about how small and crazy I was like a gremlin! …and some of my closest friends called me ‘Crem dela “Croom”‘ so he deemed me, “The Cremlin”
JP: The best of the best, eh? Definitely a good name for you; I like how your name came to be , it’s creative. So no relation to the Russian Kremlin?
KC: Hahaha, yeah no Russian government here!
JP: I’m so out of order here, haha. Switching back to Jackson, though – how often do you train? Does it differ when you have a fight coming up or do you have a strict schedule year round?
KC: I pretty much keep the same schedule all year, I train 2 or 3, sometimes 4 times a day during the week. I lift weights 3 times a week… I mean I definitely turn it up when I have a fight coming up though!
JP: Haha, gotta bring the pain prior to the fight! You’re a little beast, that’s awesome. You never get bored watching a Croom fight …your movement is bad ass too! Do you have any fights coming up?
KC: I am supposed to have a fight for Titan in January, but no contract yet so nothing for sure I guess…
JP: Aw, that’s no fun. How often do you generally get a chance to fight? You’re 5-3 [pro, right?]
KC: Yes I am pro, and so I’ve had 3 fights since June this year. I went like a year without being able find a fight, I like to fight a lot! Whenever I can.
JP: Bad ass! Are you open to taking any fight as they come or do you ultimately prefer prep-time?
KC: Well my last loss was on 3 day notice, so I am trying to take smarter fights nowadays. …But I mean if a big organization calls and the money is right ill fight in 1 hour!
JP: Haha, nice, cowboy mentality! I think we’ll wind down a bit and get to the bonus question. I really do feel that I’ll personally be following your career and on the brink of your next fight we’ll definitely get back in touch to do some shit talking! Haha…
Craig Nelson, a writer for us started the super hero question, and I like to use it in every interview if I remember… Who is your favorite super-hero and why?
KC: I guess if I can’t say the turtles as a group, I would have to say wolverine… because he is just so primal, such a beast!
JP: Never said you can’t say the turtles, this is your interview! Why the turtles? Is it because you wanted to be a ninja? Or turtles in a half-shell …TURTLE POWER was a catchy jingle?
KC: It’s heroes in a half shell, right? …And man, yeah cause I want to be a ninja, but also just the have fun vibe u get from them. Raph is by far my favorite cause I am such a smart ass and Mikey is number 2 in my book!
JP: Heroes, turtles…is there really a difference?! ….Man, It’s been years. Haha. …So before we completely hit the wrap up; did you watch the fights for UFC on Fox 1 this past weekend? Any thoughts?
KC: Yeah I did. Um… Man was Dana mad about how that turned out! …He looked pissed, but I mean that’s what u get with 4oz. gloves; one good one and its over! Trust me, I know (lol) …but the rest of the fights on Facebook were good, it sucked to watch my team mates lose, but that’s MMA… anything can happen! I am a fan of Ben Henderson, for sure …and I think he will take Edgar out without to much trouble …We’ll see, though.
JP: I’m a huge fan of Bendo as a fighter, but Guida’s the man! Edgar is from Jersey though, so I have to be slightly biased here…damnit man! Is there anyone you’d like to give a special thanks to; or some shout outs?
KC: You know, I really want to thank everyone that supports me, especially my fans from day one! …I want to thank all my coaches and training partners, you guys make me great! Also, my family, but MOST of all my father and grandparents.
JP: Awesome man! Was definitely GREAT working with you, and hope we can hook up when you’re ready to get back in the cage for some trash talk!
KC: Definitely! I’ll let u know, for sure.
(Note: Please check out Kevin’s Facebook Fan Page and add a like to it! – Kevin “The Cremlin” Croom! )