"I always love to fight, and as soon as I step into the cage I feel that all the pressure goes away and I’m doing what I like most." - Pascal Krauss
The Octagon debut of Pascal Krauss couldn’t have gone any better, as his UFC 122 win over Mark Scanlon in November of 2010 kept his unbeaten (10-0) record intact and earned him Fight of the Night honors. Nine months later, he wondered if he would reach those heights again.
“There were some moments when I wasn’t sure if it was ever gonna be like it was before,” said Krauss, who suffered a shoulder injury that forced him from a UFC 138 bout with John Hathaway and left him with plenty of painfully sleepless nights. “But those were just short moments when you’re in the darkest hours, like in the middle of the night when nobody else is awake, just you because it’s too painful, and then you start thinking and driving yourself crazy.”
There are few injuries more agonizing than one to the shoulder. If you’ve ever experienced one, the simplest acts leave you wincing in pain, and even finding a comfortable position to sleep in is nearly impossible.
“You can’t sit, you can’t lay on your back or your stomach,” recalled Krauss. “The best thing I could do was just stand and walk around. That’s what I did for like five days in a row without sleeping at all. I would walk in my room up and down, up and down, and almost going crazy. But as soon as I could start doing simple things again, I was like ‘yeah, I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna get to where I was before, and it’s gonna be good again.’”
Fast forward to today, and things are good again for the 25-year old native of Breisach, Germany. His shoulder is back in working condition, he’s had a solid training camp with Duke Roufus’ Roufusport team in Milwaukee, and he’s got a rescheduled fight this Saturday night in New Jersey against fellow welterweight prospect Hathaway. Given all that, he can look at the last 17-plus months away from the Octagon with a philosophical bent.
“That was probably the worst period of my life so far,” he said. “But it also had something good in it so you don’t start flying too high and losing the ground under your feet and thinking you’re better than everybody else. You realize how important the small and simple things – like being healthy – really are in your life. It was a bad time, but it had some good in it, and I look at it like if it doesn’t kill me it makes me stronger. I hope it works that way.”
Strange how fate can have its way of putting the brakes on things just as they’re beginning to take off, and they were taking off for Krauss in 2010. Unbeaten on the European scene and one of the continent’s top prospects, “Panzer” finished all nine of his previous foes before going the route with Scanlon in his home country. He admits to being nervous before his UFC debut, but he didn’t show it in the fast-paced and action-packed three rounder.
“I always love to fight, and as soon as I step into the cage I feel that all the pressure goes away and I’m doing what I like most,” he said. “I felt a little bit more tense, and I felt like I couldn’t compete on my best level. But it still worked out pretty good.”
That would be an understatement. But then disaster struck, and the highly touted prospect when from headlines to the back pages in a New York minute.
“It really was a contrast,” he said. “One moment you’re flying super high and everyone’s talking to you and wanting to see you fight again, and you feel like, ‘yeah, I’m doing really good right now and I want to keep going and try to achieve as much as possible.’ Then the next minute you’re out completely and can’t do anything anymore.”
Eventually, Krauss healed up and got the green light to go back to the gym, and when he got the call to face Hathaway, he kept his tradition of taking his show on the road for training camp intact by heading to Wisconsin. But why not go back to San Diego, where he worked for the Scanlon fight?
“I always like to go and discover new things and train with new people and learn some new techniques to mix it up a little bit,” said Krauss. “I was in California after my last fight for vacation when I was injured, and I felt that maybe there were too many distractions out there for me. I met a lot of people out there and I know a lot of guys who own bars and stuff. (Laughs) It’s nice out there – the beach, the girls, all that stuff, and I thought it might be better to come here and have a good camp and focus on that for a while. It’s pretty cool out here (In Milwaukee). It’s a really good camp, a lot of good guys to train with, and I live really close to the gym so I can just walk over there and train anytime I want to.”
And hey, if you’re 25 and able to see the world, why not do it? That’s Krauss’ view, and while he has gotten plenty of top notch training everywhere from Brazil and San Diego to Mexico, Los Angeles, and New York, the biggest perk for him is that by going on the road, he’s able to avoid distractions from school and work at home.
“I always love to travel, and I like to get out of my hometown and get away from daily life,” he said. “Back home I still go to college, I know a lot of people there and I work, and if I stay in my hometown, there’s a big chance I’ll get involved in the daily business that’s going on and I don’t want that. So that’s why I always choose to go somewhere else and train and experience new things. (When I came to Milwaukee) I didn’t know anyone out here personally, but it’s great to meet new people and make new friends and have a good time.”
Krauss only has one semester of college left, and he credits his injury for realizing that getting his degree is important, even if it’s only a backup plan to his current focus on the fight game. So expect that to happen in the near future, but in his immediate crosshairs is Hathaway, and he’s ready for him.
“I have seen him fight before, but I’m not that big into following other guys,” said Krauss. “If you spend that much time in the gym training and hanging out with all your friends and all the fighters, you’re glad sometimes when you’re outside the gym and you can do other stuff. You don’t want to just watch tons of other fights and make sure you follow each guy who’s out there and see what he does and what he’s been up to. So I knew his name before, but now I know him even better, and I’m sure after May 5th I will know him a little bit better again.”
Krauss smiles, content that he’s finally on the verge of being an active fighter again and one with big plans for his return.
“Let’s get as many wins as possible,” he said. “People are saying the world is going down this year (Laughs), so I should try to get as far as possible this year.”