UFC 261: Jimmy Crute v Anthony Smith, Aussie reveals crowd concerns

Jimmy Crute says watching fellow Australian Robert Whittaker punch his way into a UFC title blockbuster now has him “hyped” to go out and thrown down in the biggest fight of his own fledgling career.

Only two years after making his UFC debut, rising light heavyweight Crute is set to face No.6 ranked American Anthony Smith at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday.

Despite having been locked down for a week on the one floor of his UFC hotel — “so definitely no partying,” he laughs — the Aussie spoke of receiving a massive boost after watching Whittaker, his countryman and sometime training partner, produce the best performance of his career to defeat Kelvin Gastelum in Las Vegas last Sunday.

While Whittaker is almost assured a world title rematch with Israel Adesanya, Crute is predicting a win over Smith will also continue his own push towards a UFC title bout in 2022.

Jimmy Crute is hoping to earn a UFC title bout next year. Picture: David CairdSource:News Corp Australia

“Watching Rob fight last weekend, he was amazing,” Crute told News Corp on Friday. “I think that’s the best Rob Whittaker we’ve ever seen.

“He was just so fast. So slick. Made so many really good decisions, too. It actually started hyping me up for my own fight.”

Having spent months hosting events at empty venues like UFC Fight Island and the Apex Centre in Las Vegas, Dana White’s company is now bringing crowds back in for the Florida event this weekend.

Which for Crute, means what?

Understanding that while some fighters draw on energy from fight fans, others have enjoyed the new silence created by the recent COVID pandemic.

Robert Whittaker’s big win in Las Vegas last weekend has fired up Jimmy Crute. Picture: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLCSource:Getty Images

“Obviously, the crowd is cool after the fact,” said Crute, now gunning for his third straight UFC win. “When I win and hear them roar, I can’t explain the feeling.

“But it really does makes those hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“There’s nothing like it. Yet when it comes to performance, I think I’m better without a crowd.

“But the fact I can acknowledge that now, that I understand what difference the crowd makes to my fighting style, it will definitely help me deal with it.

“More than anything though, I just want to f…ing fight.”

Despite initially being drawn to face Brazilian Johnny Walker, who withdrew through injury, Crute says he now gets a bigger fight against a higher-ranked opponent, with a win likely to catapult “The Brute” onto the edge of the division’s top five.

Jimmy Crute is chasing his third straight UFC win. Picture: David CairdSource:News Corp Australia

Arriving in the UFC on a run of eight undefeated fights, the Aussie has dropped only one of five Octagon appearances since — in 2019, against Misha Cirkunov.

Since then however, Crute has responded with first-round finishes against Michał Oleksiejczuk (kimura) and Modestas Bukauskas (KO), while also securing US$100,000 in UFC performance bonuses.

“And this is the fight that I asked for,” Crute said of facing Smith.

“Even before I got the Johnny Walker fight, I asked the matchmakers for him.

“So I just can’t wait to get in there now and fight.”

Originally published as‘The Brute’ hyped to show fans he’s the real deal

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