News & Media

Six Pack: Bantamweight champion compares NASCAR, UFC

November 13, 2012, Joe Menzer,

Dominick Cruz, UFC bantamweight champion and honorary pace-car driver for last Sunday's Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, seems a fitting subject to answer this week's six questions.

1. This was not your first time driving a pace car, was it?

Cruz: I'm from Arizona (he moved to Tucson from San Diego when he was 1) so I've been to PIR a few times. I got to drive the pace car last year, and I have never felt anything like that, when the (race) cars pull up next to you.

2. So you are a fan of the sport?

Cruz: I'm a huge fan of all the racers. ... I don't think people give enough credit to what these guys do. It's not just driving around the circles. It's not easy, and I know that because I've met a lot of these guys and have trained with them. They are tough dudes and some of them are fans of UFC, also.

3. So you see similarities between the UFC and NASCAR (the interview was done prior to Sunday's brawl toward the end of the race at PIR)?

Cruz: The UFC is the fastest-growing sport in the world right now. Nothing is growing like we are. We just left China. We've been to Japan. We've been to Brazil. We've been to Sweden. We're trying to go to India. Literally, the UFC is taking over the world; taking over the planet in the sense of getting full-contact sports the highest level of media -- and NASCAR is doing the same thing. It just makes sense to work together and be able to use each other in order to promote both sports.

4. Can you elaborate on some of the training you've done, or would like to do with NASCAR drivers?

Cruz: I haven't gotten to work out with (Kyle) Busch, but I'm calling him out if he ever wants to. I'd like to do something like that. I'm a big fan of his and how he keeps things real. He just says what he thinks, says what he means, and I'm a big fan of that.

I just know that these guys have to be in shape -- better shape than you would think. They're driving for hours out there, lap after lap after lap. I don't know how they don't just throw up, going in circles for that long.

5. Why do you think both sports are so appealing to passionate fans?

Cruz: We're both in high-level, high-risk sports. Fans know that and cling to that. Fans cling to that because everybody in their life wants to put themselves out there and chance something. They live through us.

6. Well, and fans like to see fights, too, right?

Cruz: You never really know what's going to happen, and you want to see it. (In UFC), you never know if someone is going to go down and get slapped or if they're going to get their arm ripped off. And you want to see what happens.

That's why this racing fits so well with the UFC -- because nobody wants to see a crash but everybody wants to see a crash at the same time. You want to see how close they can get before they're just off the end and go into a wall. You want to see what they're willing to risk, and that's the same thing with fighting.