James Krause has made a name for himself as a fighter and a coach over the years and this weekend he will wear the full-time fighter hat proudly as he steps into the Octagon to face Sergio Moraes in Brazil.
Krause returns to action to face Moraes at UFC Sao Paulo this Saturday. The event takes place at Ibirapuera Gymnasium and will air on ESPN+ in the US. The 33-year-old is currently, and quietly, riding a five-fight winning streak inside the Octagon and is ready to cement his place in the loaded welterweight division.
“I feel great,” Krause told The Body Lock. “I mean, I really do. I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. There’s nothing else that I could do to make this better. I feel really good, honestly. The weight is good, the ’70 cut is not bad, no real injuries, I’ve had a great camp. I feel good.”
It has been a little while since we have seen Krause compete — 15 months to be exact. In his last appearance, Krause finished Warlley Alves at UFC Lincoln last August. There’s always a discussion about ring rust and lack of activity when it comes to the fight game but most of the subjects are not a guy of Krause’s experience level.
Entering his 34th professional bout, simply put, Krause is not a guy at this point in his career that needs to fight four to five times a year.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years. I have over 60 fights as a pro and as an amateur, I know how to fight,” Krause laughingly said. “I know how to fight by now. And a year off? I didn’t even realize it until you mentioned it. I train every day, twice a day. It’s no difference to me whether I fight one day between fights, two years, it doesn’t matter to me. I know how to fight. I’ve been fighting for a long time and if people say that a year off is going to affect anything, check my fights from before. Layoffs do not make a difference.
“I don’t believe in ring rust. My style of fighting, I get after people early and I put a lot of volume out. I have one of the highest significant strikes landed per minute in the division. It’s never been a factor before, I don’t know why 13 years later it would start being one now.”
After going 8-1-1 over a 10 fight span, Moraes has hit a bit of a skid as of late. Following a second-round submission win over Ben Saunders in last September’s UFC Fight Night event in Sao Paulo, “The Panther” has dropped back-to-back fights to Alves and Anthony Rocco Martin in 2019.
Sharing the Octagon with the likes of current welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, Moraes is in the middle of his first career losing streak. With Moraes’ back seemingly against the wall, not to mention the Curitiba native’s unique skill set, Krause is excited about this upcoming challenge.
“The one thing that comes to mind is that I feel like the general public and the UFC considers me a striker. Because of that, they like to match me up with other strikers,” Krause explained. “This will be really the first time… and I do feel like Sergio has been striking in his last couple of fights — and he’s lost those fights — I do think that he’s gonna shoot on me in this fight. I can’t let him on top of me, right? Because there could be some real problems if he gets on top of me. So there’s a little X-factor there for me that I have something new that I have to watch out for because I haven’t really fought many grapplers other than the TUF house.
“I absolutely get excited about it because I have to watch out for something new. I mean, it’s not really new, but under the lights it is.”
As a gym owner and coach of Glory MMA and Fitness in Lee’s Summit, Mo., Krause would certainly get high-level training close to him. At this point in his career, Krause has found another home as a fighter at Factory X in Colorado under the tutelage of head coach Marc Montoya.
With the success Krause, the fighter, has found at Factory X, the ol’ cliche of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ rings true.
“I haven’t lost since I joined that gym,” Krause said. “The leadership is incredible. There’s a lot of talent there but that’s not the reason I go there. I go there because of the leadership with Marc. I’m a coach as well, but I’m a very good infantry too. I like to be coached. I enjoy it. Marc is an incredible coach and leader and he’s someone that you want to go to battle for. You want to seek his approval and you want to do your best.
“That’s one thing that Marc is incredible at and that’s bringing out the absolute best out of each individual. And for me, the numbers don’t lie. I haven’t lost since I’ve been there. I haven’t lost with Marc in my corner in, going on, five years. The proof is in the pudding. It’s a good fit.”
In his 33-fight pro career — 10 of which were in the UFC, along with his fights on TUF — Krause will do something on Saturday he has never done in his career: fight in Brazil. While many may look at Brazil and the hostility fans can bring when fighters step into their country to fight one of its own as a reason, Krause never desired to make the over 5,000 mile trip for business purposes.
“That’s by design,” Krause said of not fighting in Brazil. “Typically when you fight out of the country you have to pay 15 to 30 percent more in taxes and we don’t get a raise whenever we do that. So, I’m not about that life. Brazil recently just lifted their tax laws so I won’t get hit with that. That’s the only reason I’m going.
“But look, they won’t be the first to wish death upon me. I give a s**t so less, but at the end of the day — whether it’s in Brazil or in the States — those people can’t help him. These people can’t help me. We’re locked in there and we’re gonna fight. I promise you those people aren’t gonna make a difference. The only difference that could possibly matter would be the judges and it’s my job to not let them be a factor.”
Krause has had a great camp and is as ready as he could possibly be for Saturday’s fight against a dangerous opponent in Moraes. Sometimes, a great performance in Brazil against a home town fighter can lead to added respect and love from the passionate audience. That is not at all on Krause’s mind as he prepares to make it six straight wins.
“I don’t care if they’re in my corner or not,” Krause stated. “I see myself winning. I think that he’ll come out and strike for a minute, but at some point, he’s gonna take a shot. I think that if I stop one or two of those shots he’s gonna quit shooting. I think I move too much for him, my footwork is gonna be too good for him, I think he’s gonna be lost trying to find me. I see myself finishing this fight with a knee or a high kick, or something like that.”
The James Krause the coach vs. The James Krause the fighter
In a recent interview with The Body Lock, featherweight standout Sean Woodson discussed having Krause as a coach and cornerman for the first time in his career in his organizational debut at UFC Boston. Woodson said that throughout his many conversations with the newest member of his coaching steam, Krause would say time and time again that he was a better coach than he is a fighter.
While Krause’s success in both roles speaks for itself, he stands by those statements he made to Woodson — although there’s a big reason why.
“I do believe I am [a better coach than a fighter],” Krause said. “If you read all the success books, they say if you want to accomplish everything in your life you must first help somebody else accomplish theirs. I’ve been doing this for a long time. If you watch my first UFC win I was smiling, all ecstatic and now I don’t really smile anymore. I expect to win. And it’s not that I’m not happy, it’s what I expect of myself. But I can’t help but smile whenever you’re a small part of somebody else’s success.
“The fulfillment level is just way more for me. The fact that I don’t need to fight helps. I don’t need to fight to pay my bills. Win, lose, or draw, I’m good. I’m gonna be fine after that fight’s over. Just seeing the fulfillment and people accomplishing their dreams, just being a tiny part of that success is huge for me.”
In a sport chock-full of recency bias, along with the overall body of work, it’s clear that Krause is one of the most undervalued and underrated fighters and coaches in the sport right now. Krause has built quite the resume in both aspects of his combat sports journey, but would he consider himself more underrated as a fighter, or a coach?
“I have a lot of guys coming up to me — even the good coaches — are starting to recognize me,” Krause said. “I don’t know which one but do I feel like I’m undervalued? Yes, maybe more so as a fighter right now because I don’t fight that much. My volume is not that high, but I’m on the road every weekend and the guys see me on TV. Yeah, it’s not the UFC every weekend, but I’m on the road almost every weekend.
“They see me traveling and see me on the road so a lot of the big coaches are starting to recognize that. That means more to me that the coaches are starting to recognize that than people recognizing me for fighting. I don’t know the answer to that but I would say, right now, I’m probably more underrated as a fighter.
“It’s so ‘what have you done for me lately?’, you know? If I knock out Sergio, I’ll be the next biggest thing and then two months later, I’ll fall. It’s just how it is. Unless you’re fighting every three weeks, that’s how it is.”
With the success James Krause has had, along with the fulfilling nature that coaching has brought to his life, there will eventually come a time where he will favor that part of the sport over the getting-punched-in-the-face part. For the time being, Krause is happy to wear both hats. Admittedly, the day the full-time fighter hat will be put in a glass case for historical and story-telling value will be coming. Putting a timetable on it, Krause can give an estimate at best.
“I have not put a timetable on it,” Krause said. “I think it’s more of a feeling, when you get tired of that daily grind, whenever the grind overtakes you and you start questioning whether or not you want to go to the gym in the morning, that’s when you need to start thinking about what’s next. I’m not gonna say when I’ll be done. I don’t know the answer to that. I can’t put a timetable on it, especially with this fight coming up.
“I would venture to say that I will probably be a full-time coach within the next year or two. I don’t know that for sure but it’s not really on my concern list at the moment. I have a tough opponent and right now, I’m a fighter. And right now, I’m a full-time fighter so I plan on busting that ass on Saturday.”