"This fight is going to be my chance to kind of peek my head into the next tier of the division and put everyone on notice that it’s not a fluke." - James Krause
James Krause has been counted out before.
The scrappy Missouri-based fighter has spent his entire mixed martial arts career proving the doubters wrong and persevering where many believed he would fail. Yet, there have been junctures where setbacks and low spots have occurred, and it has been in those moments when the rangy lightweight has proven his resilience. Great runs lined with impressive showings have given way to rough patches and projected success hasn’t come to fruition, but throughout it all Krause has kept fighting.
His is a classic story of how expectation and realization don’t always line up on the same time lines, but when all cylinders begin firing in sync, something special happens.
The 28-year-old Virginia native was treading rough waters in late 2011 before breaking out of his “give one, take one” pattern and going on a run where he has won nine of his last 10 showings. His three most recent outings have come under the UFC banner, two of which he’s had his hand raised at fight’s end. The Grindhouse MMA representative defeated former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner is his latest display at UFC 173 and re-ignited the fires of momentum in the process.
The bout may have ended on strange circumstances, but the Octagon is an unpredictable realm, and Krause’s offensive attack ultimately proved too much for the Arizona native to handle.
“Getting that win felt great,” Krause said. “I felt the strikes that ended the fight were because of me. I caused them and I don’t think it was a fluke deal at all. Sometimes it just happens like that and I believe I put on a good performance. I felt sharp, did my job and that’s all I can ask for.”
“It was his fault how he checked the kicks,” he explained of the ankle injury that rendered Varner unable to continue. “You don’t check kicks like that and that’s just the name of the game. That is kickboxing day one stuff. He did and paid the price for it.”
Where just reaching the UFC was a journey that took several twists and turns, based on his current success, Krause is enjoying more than just a roster spot. He’s within striking distance of locking down a top 10 ranking.
With the 155-pound division being one of the most talent-rich collectives under the organizational umbrella, Krause climbing the lightweight ladder is not a disposable accomplishment. He’s out to show the world he’s the real deal and it’s been that way for quite some time, but his talent has largely gone unrecognized in the greater scheme of things.
Krause takes zero issue with having to prove people wrong time in and time out because it’s something he’s been doing for his entire career. His next opportunity to make the MMA community sit up and take notice will come on Saturday night when he faces the ultra-scrappy Jorge Masvidal at UFC 178 in Las Vegas.
The former street fighter turned mixed martial artist has built a career on stepping inside the cage and getting after it, and Krause is looking forward to mixing it up with the former Strikeforce lightweight title challenger on one of the year’s most anticipated cards.
“[Masvidal] is top 15 and those are the guys I feel I need to be fighting,” Krause said. “This fight is going to be my chance to kind of peek my head into the next tier of the division and put everyone on notice that it’s not a fluke. I am going to prove that I really am that good and this is where I belong.
“The great thing about this matchup is there aren’t any glaring holes between us. Both of us are very well-rounded and both are hard to finish. We both come into every fight in shape and I think it’s a pretty evenly matched fight as far as that goes. We both tend to favor a boxing style where we stay long and work the jab a lot. I’m absolutely looking to make a huge statement with this fight. As far as impact goes, this is the most impactful fight I’ve had so far in the UFC. It’s my chance to let the guys in the top 10 know I’m here and I’m working my way up and I’m another guy they need to watch out for.”
In addition to Masvidal’s storied reputation for the ruckus, he is also currently residing just outside of the coveted top 10 rankings of the lightweight fold. These circumstances make Krause’s upcoming bout at UFC 178 one of the most…if not THE most important fight of his career. Since joining the UFC in early 2013, the Miami-based fighter has won four of his five showings inside the Octagon, including back-to-back victories in his two most recent bouts. That caliber of success has made Masvidal one of the fastest rising fighters in a shark tank of a division, and it is Krause’s plan to derail that momentum on Saturday night.
And while Masvidal may be higher in the rankings and get a slightly larger chunk of recognition across the MMA landscape, he’s simply the next big test on Krause’s journey, and every step taken thus far has prepared him for what he will face at UFC 178.
Krause is ready to give everything he has on Saturday night and take one more step few believed he could take.
“I’ve said this in a lot of my interviews , but the UFC either loves me or hates me because they aren’t giving me any easy matchups that’s for sure,” Krause said. “Every guy they have put me against has been a very game opponent. Even in my loss, I think that I showed good things and improvement in every fight. I know Masvidal is going to be game, but I’m game too. I come forward and do the same things he does. It’s going to be a fight…I know that, but I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s been a long road but tough times don’t last….tough people do. I kept plugging every day and kept working hard and that has brought me to where I’m at.”