Two years after being stripped of the UFC bantamweight title due to a devastating injury, Dominick Cruz will try to reclaim the honor when he takes on TJ Dillashaw on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET at UFC Fight Night in Boston.
But, TJ is more than ready to defend.
The champ had a chance to hang out with AOL Sports and discuss the big event, his training rituals, strict diets, life outside the octagon and much more.
Q: Was this lifestyle always a goal for you?
A: With UFC, if you're in MMA, that's the goal. I started wrestling at a young age and my dad got me into it. I've always been dedicated to it, I've always loved to compete and I just fell in love with it. It was a logical next step for me after graduating college, as a wrestler.
Q: Do you train differently for every fight or do you have a set routine for camp?
A: A little of both. You can't worry about your opponent so much that it changes your preparation. But you can game-plan for things they do well or for any holes they have. I just continue to worry about my skill set and improving as a whole.
Q: What about your workout schedule? Does that change much?
A: It depends. Earlier on in fight camp, you're lifting heavy weights and building power muscle and size. Then as you get closer to the fight, you do more plyometrics and cardio. It all depends. My cardio comes off mainly sports-specific stuff; I'll do wrestling rounds. Also, I have three practices a day, so it's hard to squeeze in anything else.
Q: Does your diet change too?
A: Not really. I make it my life-long goal to be a healthy eater. But five or six days out from a fight, I'll focus on taking in less sodium to drop water weight.
Q: What do you enjoy outside of your career?
A: First and foremost, I love being on the water. I just bought a boat to take out when the weather is nice. I like golf, hunting, outdoor stuff. I love food. Maybe after the fight, I'll go to Denver and go out for some good dinners.
Q: What's your favorite dish?
A: So many. I like sushi restaurants. I love Tai foods too.
Q: Favorite music?
A: Wide range. I like rap, hard rock, everything.
Q: You seem to be a laid-back guy away from fighting. Is it hard to shed that and get in 'intense mode'?
A: You want it so you can turn it on and off, without thinking. You kinda soak it all up.
Q: How badly do you want to face McGregor?
A: I think everyone trying to fight that guy. Everyone has good performance and it seems they call him out. But honestly, right now, it's hard to think past Cruz.
Q: How long have you been training for this?
A: We were supposed to fight in April in 2015, but he blew out his knee. So now this has been lined up for four months, but he's been on the radar for a while.
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