Kyle Crutchmer said he always has been different, and he wanted his career path to reflect that.

Crutchmer signed a professional mixed martial arts contract with Bellator MMA on Wednesday. He said contract talks started about two months ago, but the journey began in 2017 after Crutchmer concluded his wrestling career at Oklahoma State, where he was a two-time All-American.

“My whole life, I just wanted to be something different,” Crutchmer said. “I wanted to do something a little bit more than your average person. God created me and gave me a gift, with the athletic ability and things like that, and I’ve kind of just taken that and turned it into my own little personality.

“It’s put me in a position where I have an opportunity to change my family’s life. A lot of the things I do, it’s not so much for me. I have a family that I love, and we’re trying to be a little different. This is the route I wanted to take to see if I could change that.”

Before his career at OSU, Crutchmer won two wrestling state championships at Union. He then started his tenure under John Smith, who has coached multiple future MMA standouts at OSU, including UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. The Cowboy connection quickly drew Crutchmer and Cormier together, prompting Crutchmer to move to San Jose, California, two years ago and start training at the American Kickboxing Academy with one of the biggest names in the sport as his mentor. Crutchmer also has sparred with the likes of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at AKA.

When Crutchmer signed his contract Wednesday, Cormier was in Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards, where he was honored as “Best MMA Fighter.”

“I just like competing, and I know if I can compete with those guys I can compete with anybody,” Crutchmer said. “I’m around guys that have done very well. They’re constantly showing us things, making sure we’re doing the right stuff. Having DC here, it’s like having John Smith in your corner.”

Crutchmer had a 4-0 amateur record before reaching the next level, with all of his bouts hosted in his home state. His first professional fight with Bellator MMA is projected to be in October at Winstar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville. However, considering he just put pen to paper, Crutchmer said official fight plans will not be finalized until after this month.

“At the end of the day, man, this isn’t the ending of what I’m trying to do,” Crutchmer said. “This is just the very beginning. I don’t look at it as too big of a deal. I got to sign that (contract) today, and that just put me in the position where now I know what I have to do to be able to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. So I don’t look at it as, ‘Wow, this is such a big deal,’ but I’m more looking at it as this is just the first step in doing the things I’ve always wanted to do.”

Dekota Gregory

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Dekota covers the University of Tulsa football team and ORU men’s basketball team. An Oklahoma State University graduate, he was an intern for the Tulsa World before joining in 2019.