Tamdan “The Barn Cat” McCroy (12-3) had one of the most unexpected and triumphant returns any fighter could ask for. He came out of retirement for Bellator 123 and defeated former Middleweight number 1 contender, Brennan Ward with a vicious combination, knocking Ward out in just over 20 seconds into the first round.
McCrory’s striking was crisp and his combinations were clean, he looked as though he never left the cage. Ward was visually overwhelmed and outmatched by the former BET Iron Ring contestant, “The Barn Cat” spoke with MMAFighting.com on his victory over Ward.
“The whole day I was really amped up and have a lot of nerves,” said McCrory. “But I felt it was my time to shine, and the funny thing is that’s one of the mottos for the Mohegan Sun. You walk around there and it says, ‘It’s Time to Shine, Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino.’”
“I hit him with a 1-2-3 and saw his legs wobble, and knew he had him. I stepped up on him, and hit him with another three-punch, and got him with the hook and saw his chin wiggle. I was like, he’s bobble-heading out, he’s out, and I was just throwing bombs after that. When I was doing it, time slowed. I was in my zone.”
“He was already sitting down, it’s just that cross hit him before his ass hit the canvas. knew he wasn’t getting up. I’ve never hit somebody in the head repeatedly so solid in my life.”
McCrory’s last fight in the UFC (UFC 101) was lost by split decision to John “Doomsday” Howard. Although he still possessed an even record (3-3) with the promotion, the powers that be decided it would be best to “leave the barn door open”, hence releasing Tamdan from the UFC. Not long after, Tamdan expressed an interest in joining Bellator’s Middleweight division, however the promotion (then managed by former CEO, Bjorn Rebney) declined to pick him up.
“I never really meant to take all that time off,” he said. “It’s just the way circumstances lead you in life. I got so far out of the mix. For a time, I didn’t want to fight. There were times I didn’t want to, then there were times I wasn’t able to, and there were other things…injuries, problems. I just could never get the momentum enough to get competitive, or I just couldn’t find the right fights, or I couldn’t find someone who’d fight me, or I couldn’t find somebody who’d want to pay me.”
Tamdan went on to explain how he believed he could play the part of an underdog since he felt the “suit” fits him well. At UFC Fight Night 10, also his first bout in the UFC, McCroy was unknown and expected to be handled rather easily by his opponent, TUF veteran Pete “The Secret Weapon” Spratt. But he took Spratt down with an arm triangle choke in the 2nd round. Since then Tamdan wasn’t taken so lightly by others.
Fast forward 5 years, Bellator’s got a new President and while the UFC is saturating it’s roster with fighters, their competition are pruning the hedges. With some rare exceptions. Scott Coker’s new team at Bellator decided to “bring this ‘stray cat’ home with them”. Now part of the more refined Bellator (2.0) McCory was placed in the hot seat as a late replacement for “The Sandman” James Irvin at Bellator 123. And as with all the classic fairy tales, the story has a twist at the end. This “barn cat” proved to be more of a lion than anyone, even Tamdarn himself, had thought.
“I knew I was probably being pulled in (to Bellator 123) to get beat, and I was cool with that. I could see all the angles for why they picked me. But I was just thankful that they gave me a shot rather than being on the undercard on these little tiny shows. It was a blessing that they got me back, and every part of it was a Cinderella story. After five years he comes back, and I get to showcase my skills again.”