October 04 2019
Nick "The Avenger" Kruse
Nick Kruse is an Amateur MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Fighter out of Tracy, CA. He fights in the Featherweight (145 lb) division and trains at Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu HQ in Pleasanton, CA.
Tapology: Nicklaus Kruse
Hi Nick, the team at Davenly are ecstatic to be working with you and joining alongside your MMA journey. As a new fighter on the amateur scene, we are very interested to learn about the early stages of your career and your current mindset going into the sport.
How did you first get into the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and what was your martial arts experience prior?
I essentially fell into MMA a few years after starting Jiu-Jitsu at Guerrilla and training with Khai Wu and Dave Camarillo. Prior to starting at Guerrilla, I had a few years of Muay Thai and Taekwondo experience at another gym in my hometown of Tracy, CA.
You currently train under the legendary Dave Camarillo at Guerilla Jiu-Jitsu HQ in Pleasanton, CA. When did your relationship with Dave first develop and how did this gym become your permanent home?
It actually turned out that Dave’s wife ended up going to my mom’s yoga studio in Tracy. It wasn’t until a few months later that she mentioned her husband was a world class MMA and BJJ coach. Knowing that I had expressed interest in starting Jiu-Jitsu, she took me to the gym the week after and I’ve been there ever since.
One of your main training partners and mentor is the rising prospect, Khai “The Shadow” Wu. What is it like training alongside him and what has he taught you about the sport?
I have been extremely fortunate to train alongside Khai from the beginning of my career. With him bringing me along for every step of his career, I’ve been able to see the do’s and dont’s of MMA from a very early age. I could go on for days about how many things I’ve learned from Khai, but I would say the most valuable thing he taught me was how to analyze and think about both the technical and promotional sides of the sport.
MMA is constantly evolving and you often hear about the “new breed” of martial artists that grew up learning all of the disciplines simultaneously. At the young age of 22, do you see yourself as a part of this new breed of fighters? How would you describe your fighting style?
I don’t know about being a “new breed”, but what I think makes me unique is that I came into the game with virtually no background. Because of this, my focus from day one has been to extract the transferable “MMA qualities” of every martial art and implementing them into my game. This has left me with a unique and constantly evolving style. With that said, I always try to abide by my coach’s advice: “the best style is to have no style”.
Aside from MMA, you also compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. How would you describe the difference in preparation between the two sports? Also, what is your favorite submission and why?
We have a saying at Guerrilla: “sometimes you need to be a scientist and sometimes you need to be a caveman.” Taking this into account, I would say Jiu-Jitsu requires a bit more of the scientist mentality whereas MMA more often requires the caveman. When I’m preparing for BJJ, I find myself diving deep into the intricacies of the martial art as well as the sport. However, during an MMA camp, I feel the need to develop a technical game plan as well as the mental “toughness” needed to win a fight. After training with Dave for so many years, I’ve developed a love for extracting armbars from every position.
Your nickname is “The Avenger”. Where did this nickname derive from?
The nickname actually has two meanings. It was initially given to me by a friend in Taiwan that had previously fought and lost to my first opponent. It was our hope that I would avenge his loss. However, upon losing my first fight, the nickname took on a different and more profound meaning to me. Now with every fight, I will always be trying to “avenge” that first defeat.
Take us back to your very first amateur fight. Describe the initial experience leading up to it and how you felt after the fight was over.
My first amateur fight was actually quite unique. Khai had asked me to come over to Taiwan to help finish up his fight camp for the WOTD promotion. Leading up to the trip, he asked me if I wanted to fight there. I said yes, and next thing you know I was paired up against a 4-1 prospect at a higher weight class. I ended up losing a decision after getting dropping in the first round. However, the lessons and experience I gained from that fight have continued to help me grow as a martial artist and boosted my confidence in the fight game immensely.
Both inside and outside of the cage, which fighter do you try to mirror yourself after?
I wouldn’t say I have one fighter that I try to mirror. I do my best to study and take away from every fighter that I watch.
We heard that you are a huge boba (aka bubble tea) fan. Tell us how you first discovered it and what makes you keep coming back for more.
Khai actually introduced me to boba during one of the first times we met. He said, “do you want to get a drink?”. Being a 17 year old, I quickly said yes, but little did I know he would hand me a jasmine milk tea later. I wasn’t the biggest fan at first, but after a few tries, I started to like it and I haven’t looked back since.
When you are not in fight camp, what types of food do you enjoy eating? If you could choose one ultimate cheat meal, what would it be and why?
I do my best to control it, but I have a huge sweet tooth. Ever since traveling to Taiwan though, I’ve been on the hunt for “street food”. As far as the perfect meal goes, it’d have to be anything involving boba and popcorn chicken.
For those unfamiliar with the food scene in Tracy, CA and the surrounding cities, what are the top 3 restaurants that you would recommend to an outsider?
Unfortunately, being a small town, we don’t have a huge selection. However, we have been growing a lot during the last few years. With that said, my personal favorites would be “Town and Country” for breakfast, “Bistro 135” for lunch, and “Cafe Dazzling” anytime of the day.
Where do you see yourself a year from now? Do you have a timeline of what you would like to achieve by then?
With me turning 22, I would definitely like to make this a very active year by hopefully adding a lot of experience and wins to my resume. If everything goes according to plan, I’m hoping to make this year one of my last as an amateur and looking into the pro scene at the end of 2020.
At the end of your career, what do you want to be remembered for?
Well I like to look at this as a lifelong journey, so whether I’m fighting or not, I don’t know if I’ll ever consider my career ended. With that said, when people hear about me, I’d like them to remember me as a martial artist rather than a fighter.
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