UFC fighters don’t fear the Octagon or their opponent in it, but what does make the hair on the back of their neck stand at attention is a split decision.
“When they start reading the scorecards and they say one judge has it 29-28 for some person, you know it’s a split decision and you’re like ‘s**t,’” UFC lightweight James Krause, who found himself on the wrong end of a stomach-turning split in February, candidly said
At UFC 184, the 29-year-old from Missouri had fought for 15 minutes in a closely-contested clash with Nova Uniao’s Valmir Lazaro. Both lightweights landed over 80 significant strikes and Krause shot for near a dozen takedowns, but as he waited for the final judgment to be read - Krause wasn’t tired. Having great cardio is one thing and not leaving everything you have inside the Octagon is another. The loss was extra biting, as Krause knew he had the energy to simply have done more because, apparently, that’s what the judges needed to see from him that night.
“I felt like I won every round, but I’m not mad about it,” Krause said. “I’m ready to get after the next one. I have to get tired. I’m finishing 15-minute fights and I’m not even breathing hard. For that to happen is absurd, especially if I’m losing decisions. Lazaro - he’s tough, he’s good, but I liked that matchup a lot for me and I still do. I feel like I did enough to win the fight, but I guess I didn’t. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. I had plenty left in the gas tank, and I wasn’t even breathing hard. I thought I was winning every round. I lost, but I don’t feel like I got beat. I just lost. I beat myself. I got to go out there in this next one and put some pressure on this guy and worry about what I’m going to do and not what he’s going to do.”
With an overall 21-7 pro career, including 19 wins by finish, Krause is clearly a fighter who does get after it and does so with authority. Generally, decisions have not been common occurrences in Krause’s eight years as a pro fighter, but he has experienced them in his last two Octagon outings and neither has improved his record. Krause knows he’s staring down the barrel of an unfortunate losing streak and he needs to get brain back into his finisher’s mentality to put on an impressive performance against knockout artist Daron Cruickshank this Saturday night in Chicago.
“The right term is mindset,” Krause said. “You don’t have to make physical changes. I’m not going to force anything, but I’m definitely going to be looking to finish at all times. I know Cruickshank is a good guy and he’s dangerous, but I’m good and I’m dangerous too. I think we both have a lot of respect for each other, but it’s that mindset. I’m going to go out there with the right mindset and I’m going to come after it. My back is against the wall in this fight. I might get the pink slip if I lose. And I always perform well in clutch situations. I’m very excited to go out and test my skills and put in a new game plan. I’ve made a couple changes in my training camp and I’m very excited to put those to use.”
Sam Stout in their lightweight fight during the UFC 161 event at the MTS Centre on June 15, 2013 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)" align="left" />Up next, Krause is headed for a showdown in Chi-town at UFC on FOX: Dillashaw vs. Barao 2 against Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank. With a 16-6, 1 NC pro record, The Ultimate Fighter 15 alum owns three highlight-reel knockouts inside the Octagon. The Michigan Top Team founder is coming off a submission loss in March and a strange no contest in December against KJ Noons after receiving several eye pokes. Regardless of the recent rough patch, Cruickshank is a top-tier athlete with devastating kicks and a background as a college wrestler.
“He’s a very talented guy,” Krause said. “He’s got that taekwondo style. He’s got some good wins. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s very dangerous. He’s got flashy kicks that he can pull from anywhere. Just like any taekwondo or kick-prominent person, it is very hard to be effective kicking while going backwards. I don’t think it’s a secret formula for what it takes to beat that style. I have an exciting fighting style too. I say this before almost every fight, but this is a good fight for the fans. I’m really excited to A) show my improvements, B) to put on an exciting fight for the fans and C) compete against a great guy. We ran into each other at another promotion in Canada and he was real super nice to me. I’m ready to go and I’m on another level mentally and physically.”
In preparation for Cruickshank, Krause has been busy training in his home state of Missouri and at elevation in Colorado.Bobby Green in their UFC lightweight bout on November 6, 2013 in Fort Campbell, KY. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)" align="right" /> Along with notable teammates like Zak Cummings and Tim Elliott, Krause’s main gym is Lee Summit’s Glory MMA & Fitness. Recently, Krause has been traveling to Factory X in Denver to work his Muay Thai with head coach Marc Montoya.
“They’ve done good things with me striking wise and it has helped my cardio quite a bit,” Krause said. “Not that I was having issues with that, but I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much cardio. I really like some of the stuff that I have been learning from Montoya and I really like our game plan going into this. I feel good about this. I really do. I’m just real excited to compete. I’m going to go out there and do my thing and do what I do best and that’s fight people.”
This Saturday, two lightweights who are feverish for a finish will meet inside the Octagon, as Krause collides with Cruickshank. “You’re going to see two guys who are hungry for a win,” Krause said. “You’re not going to see us fighting not to lose. You’re going to see two guys fighting to win, fighting to finish.”