When asked what fighting in the UFC means to him, Dominick Cruz says, “It means I can truly call myself one of the best fighters on the planet and that my dreams and goals are slowly being accomplished!” Born September 3, 1985 in Tucson, Arizona, Cruz wasn’t always the dedicated champion that he is today. In fact, he’d gotten into so much trouble growing up that, after he threw a party without telling her, his mother had had enough and kicked him out at age 19.

That rough start might have ended a lot of fighters’ careers before they began, but Cruz says it’s the best thing that ever happened to him. Though he’d been wrestling since the seventh grade, he didn’t have the discipline yet that he would need to go on to greatness.

Today, though, with the lessons he learned from his early years of wrestling and suddenly having to make it on his own at 19, he’s more dedicated than ever. Dominick trains twice a day five days per week, and he goes in for a single practice session on Saturdays, as well.

Fans and fighters, alike, are fascinated by Dominick’s unique style of stand-up fighting. It’s unlike any other, and it keeps his opponents guessing as he gets takedown after takedown.

All that hard work has paid off, as Dominick is now the UFC bantamweight champion and WEC bantamweight champion. His favorite technique is the uppercut, and he has a 60% takedown rate in his UFC fights. He’s never lost a fight in the octagon, though he was stripped of his title in 2014 after getting injured. He still calls his mom his hero, and he’s determined to continue fighting to get more championships and more WEC and UFC belts.