Shane Kruchten, a one of a kind Mixed Martial Artist

All American boy, Shane Kruchten with his son Liam.

Did you ever want to ask one of these Mixed Martial Artist about why they insist on living their life on the edge? Here’s a suggestion; go talk with Shane “the Zombie” Kruchten because that’s his MO. This 27 year-old combat veteran has done some of (ok, most of) the things the majority of us would never even consider, the adrenaline filled activities.

Shane Kruchten (L) poses for photo with Gilbert Melendez (R) a current UFC world champion.

He’s an avid skydiver who has racked up over 300 solo skydives and holds a C-license. With that many jumps, you got to figure he’s had at least one close call. That he has, and yet he still tempts fate. After that first shoot refused to open, his life hung in the balance on the opening of the cut-away. Cut-away is a skydiving term referring to the disconnection of the main parachute from the harness-container in case of a malfunction in preparation for opening the reserve parachute. That nightmarish experience did little to dissuade him from this pastime.

Kruchten, the proud father of seven year-old Liam Polson, maintains that his son is simply wonderful. With Liam living with his Mom in Elkart, Indiana, which is nearly 2,200 miles away from San Diego, this might be another exemplification of that Cat Stevens’ song/parable, Cats in the Cradle. “I’m gonna be like you, dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.”

For weeks, Kruchten, a pro Mixed Martial Artist has been pumped about his opportunity to appear on the next Xplode Fight Series on Saturday, January 21, 2012 in Valley Center. If he’s not competing on a fight card, he’s likely volunteering for some reality TV show.

In his spare time, Kruchten works full time as a safety officer on MCAS Miramar. For such a position, you need a college degree. He secured his degree in record time. Questioned about his schooling, he answered, “The only reason I went to school…the GI Bill was offering some extra cash so I figured I’d collect.”

When asked about the famous people he’d enjoy meeting or maybe sharing a sit down meal with, he didn’t mention God or Abraham Lincoln, his favorites: Jim McMahon, the former signal caller of the Da Bears, the Chicago Bears, and two fellow Mixed Martial Artists, Rampage Jackson and Matt Lagler. Why these guys? He said because they’re a lot like him, “all head cases.”

Once a Marine, always a Marine. Semper Fi

While in the Marine Corps he was stationed at San Mateo aboard Camp Pendleton, California, a member of the 5th Marine Division. At the age of 17 he was part of the invasion force which eventually overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He also had a brief stint with “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Like many of the soldiers returning from combat, it hasn’t been easy. At one point, he had over 265 pounds on his 6’ 2” frame and was heavily addicted to alcohol and drugs. Like his fellow vets, he’s suffered from PTSD, which at times torments his life.

One day, a coworker at the Oshkosh, Wisconsin manufacturing company, approached him and asked if he’d be interested in attending an MMA event that was taking place that evening. Reluctantly, he agreed, never imagining that this decision would change his life.

After watching the first two UFC fights, Kruchten became fascinated by this new sport, a sport that was on the brink of blowing up. While sitting there in the crowd with his coworker, the show’s promoter noticed Kruchten and approached to ask, “WOW! You’re a big guy. Ever fight?” Kruchten answered, “No!”

The promoter then offered him a free pair of shorts and a full paid bar tab if he would fill in for a fighter who had suddenly pulled out the competition. Not knowing any better, Krutchen didn’t hesitate. For him, free is always the best price, especially when it comes to bar tabs.

His debut wasn’t pretty, seeing as the only thing he knew about fighting were the few things he remembered from high school wrestling and a short Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. After a round and a half, the referee mercifully stepped in and stopped the bout due to the many strikes Kruchten had taken to his head. After that night he became a big fan of the sport and it’s headliners, Tito Ortiz and B. J. Penn.


Nowadays, being a Mixed Martial Artist involves having at least a half dozen tattoos.

Fast forward to 2012 and you would never recognize the guy who was in that cage in 2006. He’s now been clean for almost four years, rarely drinks, trains six days a week and now fights at lightweight (155 pounds). That’s not a typo. After losing a person, over 100 plus pounds with the help of his personal trainer Chris Daly, he’s progressed from super heavyweight to lightweight. After fighting in four different weight classes, heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, and now lightweight, Kruchten has racked up a professional record of 6-2-0.

Hanging out at poolside surrounded by the babes is part of the drudgery of being a fit Mixed Martial Artist.

Kruchten trains at The Arena MMA Gym located in Point Loma, CA under the watchful eye of Jeff Clark, Vince Salvador, and Pat Speight, coaches that are considered some of the best in the industry. In every training session, they’re pushing him to improve.

Update: “The Zombie” began this year fighting on the Saturday, January 21st fight card of the Xplode Fight Series which had their latest show in Valley Center, CA just outside of the town of Escondido. Kruchten won the bout by submission over Mike McCullough. With the win his record improves to 7-2. After the win, he said his plan is to drop to featherweight (145 pounds) and continue to compete in that weight class. So keep your eyes out for this explosive fighter before he totally disappears.

Fat chance that will happen. “Kruch” has over 4,295 Facebook friends, thousands following him on Twitter, at least a regiment of Marine Corps buddies, the guys at The Arena MMA, neighbors, fellow workers at Safecon Consulting, classmates from Oshkosh North High School, alumni from Cuyamaca Community College and his family keeping tabs on him.

I suppose it’s because he’s an original from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where you hear locals calling out, “Don’t cha know!”

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