Since The Ultimate Fighter premiered in 2005, it has always brought ferocious new talents to the forefront of the UFC. From Roy Nelson, to UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin, the cream always tends to rise to the top. But what about those contestants who were eliminated before even entering the house? In this three part story we take a look at three current UFC Fighters who experienced just that.
Part I: James Krause
The eleventh installment of the Ultimate Fighter saw many new changes implemented into the show’s formula. The show would be edited over 13 weeks instead of six, it was the debut of TUF on the FX channel, and it would be the first Ultimate Fighter to showcase live fights. Mixed Martial Artists from all over the world tried out to be a part of this one of a kind program, but only 32 fighters were chosen to get onto the first episode, with one of those men being current Lightweight competitor James Krause.
“This was my fourth or fifth time trying out for The Ultimate Fighter,” recalls Krause.
“So when I got the call that I was on, I was real happy about it. They kept it hush up until a few weeks before and then they called me to confirm it and at the time I couldn’t have been happier.”
After he got the call, the current Blue Springs, Missouri native put his life on hold to put a hundred percent focus into this new opportunity. He quit his job in marketing at a used car lot and put his all into training and readying himself for the challenges ahead. His family and friends were ready to cheer him on and Krause was ecstatic about the next chapter of his MMA story.
Seeing the other 31 fighters on the first episode of TUF didn’t faze Krause, as he took the experience just like any of his other fights. He was cool, calm, collected and had his eyes and ears open to what TUF had in store for him. UFC president Dana White then informed the contestants that there would be exhibition bouts with 16 of the winners making it into The Ultimate Fighter House. Krause was paired with Team Black House fighter Justin Lawrence and the outcome of the fight would change the course of James Krause’s fighting path forever. Krause takes us through his battle with Justin Lawrence:
“I threw a jab and came into shoot and we both dropped levels and his head cracked me right on the jaw and pretty much knocked me out. I don’t really remember anything after that but I was knocked out. It sucked. Especially, how I lost the fight. I had never been knocked out before and it was definitely a freak thing. I watched the fight after the fact and I just got bitter. To me it was a fluke thing that couldn’t happen again if you tried to recreate it and after that I hated the sport. “
The loss shook the confidence of Krause who stopped training MMA entirely... at least temporarily. He went back to a 9-5 job and just took the time to reflect on his Ultimate Fighter experience and heal his physical and mental wounds. After two weeks of frustration Krause now had something to fuel his desire to fight for the UFC and making sure that his elimination from The Ultimate Fighter was the last thing people think about when discussing James Krause. A new Krause would emerge from the rubble.
“After that experience on The Ultimate Fighter, I felt like I was training with purpose. I went into the gym each day to accomplish something,” said Krause. “I trained for a reason, to get better and to get back to where I wanted to be.”
The comeback of James Krause was imminent and his next three fights would end in victory. After submitting his third opponent, his confidence took center stage as he grabbed the microphone and made a call out to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva saying “Joe, give me a call sometime, buddy.” Krause had made a declaration for attention from the UFC and not long after he got the call.
“The UFC had called me previously for other fights that didn’t pan out, but one day I got a text from Joe Silva two days and two weeks out from the fight with Sam Stout and he told me about the opportunity in Winnipeg and I said yes. I took the fight short notice and the deal was done. No hesitation. I was ready, I was in good shape, and I was like, let’s go!”
At UFC 161 Krause’s debut was set and he would be across the Octagon from veteran Sam Stout. With the little time he had to train, Krause went with a game plan and was preparing to try to win the fight by decision. After a back and forth contest between the two, Krause saw his chance to make his mark and attacked Stout with his go to Guillotine Choke. Stout would tap out at the end of the third round and all previous obstacles were in Krause’s rearview mirror. He would obtain Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night honors earning $100,000 in bonuses. The bitter taste of defeat would turn into the sweet taste of victory.
“It was a dream come true. It’s a feeling unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. It’s a sense of accomplishment, something you’ve been working towards for so long and it’s finally happening in front of your face. It was a great feeling.”
Krause definitely had people talking about him after his hand was raised and is looking to fight one more time before the end of the year. He has definitely become a fighter to watch in the UFC for the foreseeable future and with his quest to the UFC he is living proof that sometimes setbacks can be a set up for a comeback.