Drakkar Klose (R) throws a right on Devin Powell during the UFC Fight Night event at the at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 15, 2017 in Phoenix, AZ. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)" align="center" /> When Drakkar Klose steps into the Octagon to face David Teymur in a clash of lightweight prospects on Saturday night’s UFC 218 card in Detroit, he expects to have some support there from family and friends in South Haven, Michigan.
How much support?
“Hopefully, my whole town,” he laughs, but in all seriousness, when talking about ticket requests and messages he received about the fight, it wouldn’t be surprising if the 4,000-plus residents of the city make the three-hour trip to see the unbeaten Klose fight. And that would be a welcome sight for the 29-year-old, who takes where he comes from seriously.
“Michigan is a tough, gritty state,” he said. “Michigan molded me into the man I am. Arizona just sharpened me and polished me up. So it means everything to go back there and compete in front of them. I’ve dedicated my whole life in wrestling out there in Michigan, entertaining people then, and now I can do it on a much larger stage in the UFC and give back to the people that gave me so much.”
In Arizona since 2011, Klose discovered mixed martial arts in the southwest and hasn’t looked back since, but he never forgot where he came from. And if you forgot, a tattoo of the state on his chest will remind you. So it was a no brainer to put him on Saturday’s card, especially since he’s a fighter on the rise after back-to-back wins over Devin Powell and Marc Diakiese.
July’s fight with Diakiese was particularly telling, as it matched up two unbeaten lightweights with a high upside in the division, and after a heated build-up to the bout, it was Klose who upset the Brit via split decision. But as far as it being the most important win of his career, Klose opts to take a wrestling approach to such an idea.
The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena on July 7, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC)" align="right" /> “Every fight is important,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of regrets in my life with wrestling, wishing I could have done this or that. In fighting, I try to dedicate all my time, every second, to this so I don’t look back and wish I would have done this or that. I think I was looked at as a stepping stone for him (Diakiese), but I’m glad they chose me, because I’m one tough dude to go against. I think I’m a bad matchup for anyone.”
Trying to make up for past near misses in wrestling recalls the attitude of former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who had come close to championships on the mat but just fell short, only to finally strike gold as a mixed martial artist. It’s the perfect example for Klose to follow, and the MMA Lab standout was looking forward to fighting on the same card as Edgar before “The Answer” was forced from the UFC 218 main event due to injury. But just being on the same show as one of the sport’s greats wasn’t the sole reason why Klose was excited.
“Back in high school we would go do camps at Clarion University, and he (Edgar) was my camp counselor,” he said. “So it would have been great to fight on the same card as him. He was an awesome dude.”
Shows what a small world MMA can be, and also how something that happened years ago can come back in the oddest of ways. Drakkar Klose never knew that this was his destination when he left South Haven, he just wanted to get out of the cold. Now he’s one of the top prospects in the sport and about to show everybody in Michigan that you can go home again.