When Drakkar Klose returned home from a 2021 business trip that saw a fight with Jeremy Stephens scrapped when he was pushed by his opponent at the weigh-ins and injured, his son Kingston knew immediately that dad was hurt.
In April, it was a different scene in the Klose household when dad came home with his first win since 2019 and a Performance of the Night bonus check.
“I told him I was gonna buy him a trampoline, so he's just been waiting for this trampoline,” Klose laughed. “I need to do some stuff to the backyard because it has a lot of hills and bumps, so I'm trying to get that leveled out. But he reminds me every day: ‘Hey, where's my trampoline at?’”
That’s a four-year-old for you. As for his 34-year-old father, he’s got a new lease on his fighting life after stopping Brandon Jenkins in two rounds, giving him his first victory in nearly three years. More importantly, he proved that the injuries and question marks following the Stephens incident were in the past, but when the Jenkins bout was stopped, those weren’t Klose’s immediate thoughts.
“To be honest, I was like, ‘Man, this dude can take a beating,’” said Klose. “I punched him a lot and he still was there, but I'm glad Herb Dean jumped in and stopped it.”
Then, Klose could exhale.
“Coming off that loss (to Beneil Dariush in 2020) and then all the injuries that happened to me, I had a lot of pressure,” he said. “So just going in there and getting my feet wet again and getting that victory, I was able to have that feeling again.”
Today, he gets the opportunity to do it all again when he faces Rafa Garcia on the UFC 277 card in Dallas. He was originally scheduled to meet Diego Ferreira before the Brazilian withdrew due to injury, and while it’s not as high profile of a matchup now, all Klose wants to do is fight, and he knows Garcia is showing up to do just that.
“I've got two fights left on my contract, so I want to go out there and make a statement with this guy so I can have some renegotiation power,” said the Michigan native. “But Rafa is tough. He fought on the last card with me. He can take a beating, so I've just got to go out there and be smart and apply my game plan to him. He likes to get hit, and that's what I plan on doing - hit him a lot more than he hits me.”
Klose laughs, knowing that for all the intricacies of mixed martial arts, sometimes it comes down to simply hitting more than you get hit. And as he’s gotten older, he’s approaching the game with a more practical view, knowing that in this, like any sport, the window to succeed is a small one.
“I started journaling a couple years ago when I was injured, putting down my goals, and when I got back I was determined to enjoy this time,” said Klose, who picked up the journaling habit from teammate Sean O’Malley and coach Tim Welch. “Don't complain about training because it could be gone, and I took that whole mindset and just enjoy everything.”
Is Klose maturing on us?
“I'm becoming a man, I guess,” he laughs. “I still act like a little kid sometimes, but I try to be more of an adult. I gotta be there for my kid and do the right things for him. He looks at me every day.”
He’s definitely going to be looking at dad on Sunday when he comes home to Arizona from Dallas. Is that trampoline coming? Yes, Kingston, yes.
“After this fight, I'll hire some people to level it (the yard) out for me.”
UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes, took place on Saturday, July 30, 2022 live from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!