Spotlight on Rising Fighters: Ariana Cruzby Brian Woodman Jr. on 09/12/17
(Editorial Note: the purpose of this post is to launch a possible regular column on "up-and-coming" fighters in the Connecticut MMA scene.)
Twenty-three-year-old Bristol resident Ariana Cruz currently works as a bail bonds agent. But she also has a hobby that she hopes to convert for at least a little while into a new career-- Mixed Martial Arts. She has trained for about one year in seven months in the sport and is currently honing her skills at Ascension Athletics in Bristol.
She fought in two Muay Thai "smokers" in Connecticut and Rhode Island against opponents in the 125-pound range -- winning one bout and losing another. But although she is currently focused on the stand-up-phase of fighting, she said, she plans to pursue MMA rather than Muay Thai as her skills improve -- her trainers are gradually transitioning her skill set toward Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. She added that she definitely wants to try professional fighting before getting her bill enforcement license and pursuing a career in property management.
Former Reality Fighting Bantamweight champion Jeff Emil Haddad, who operates Ascension Athletics with the prolific professional featherweight fighter Matt Bessette, confirmed that the school is definitely grooming Cruz for bigger things. Cruz, Haddad and Bessette discussed how they are preparing her for amateur grappling in NAGA and AMMO before eventually focusing on entrance into larger regional organizations such as Reality Fighting and CES.
"Matt and I believe Ariana has all the potential to be a world champion'" said Haddad. "She's fearless, intelligent, tough, aggressive, consistent, personable, athletic, and most of all -- she loves to fight! We are so happy to have her, and we are excited to be a part of her journey."
Cruz described Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson as two of her role models, adding that they both fight at 115.
"I will be fighting at that weight," she said.
She eventually wants to settle down and start a family, she said, but added she intends to pursue her hobby for now.
"I love to fight," she said,. "It's an awesome feeling."