'Super proud' and without regret, James Krause reflects on UFC 247
Welterweight James Krause was in Houston last week to corner Youssef Zalal at UFC 247 when he heard that middleweight Trevin Giles’ scheduled opponent Antonio Arroyo began having medical issues after weigh-ins Friday. Without being asked, the former lightweight volunteered to step in and fight Giles at middleweight the next day, a few fights after he’d corner Zalal.
The fight got approved, Krause made the middleweight limit with ease, and then went ahead and pushed the pace against Giles in a three-round battle that won ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. Krause lost a controversial split-decision after one judge inexplicably scored the first round for Giles even though Krause dominated most of the stanza with a takedown and back control.
By Monday Krause is back home, training and coaching at his Glory MMA & Fitness gym, and insists that he doesn’t understand why everyone has made such a big deal about his jumping up in weight to fight on virtually no notice and performing so well. In fact, he rejects the question, asking why he decided to fight Giles altogether.
“The better question for me would’ve been ‘why not’?’ I feel like I was in a good position. They needed me…I felt pretty awesome about it, to be honest with you. I liked the matchup. I still like the matchup. I would do it again in a heartbeat, no questions asked,” said Krause.
“I feel like I made the right decision. One hundred percent I feel like I made the right decision. Looking back on the week I even more think so now than I did when I took it. I honestly didn’t think it was a huge deal when I took it. Obviously everyone else went crazy about it. I didn’t think anything of it but apparently it was a big deal…everyone else went crazy about it later but to me, I’m from the Midwest. I’ve done that a bunch of times early in my career so I just thought, ‘screw it, man.’ It was a good opportunity for me. Obviously I think it was a good move because the press I got from it alone was ridiculous. I just feel like it was a great move. It put me in a position where I could ask for more money. I loved everything about it.”
He admits that Giles' size and weight advantage over him presented additional challenges when it came to striking power and even grappling, but Krause says none of those factors were ultimately consequential. The fight itself bears that assessment out, as Krause appeared to win rounds one and three and effectively pressured Giles up until the final horn.
“The big difference was the stopping power,” he explained. “He didn’t really hurt me or anything like that but it was more like he moved me. Every time he hit me it moved me. It always would knock me off my feet, kinda, and knock me off balance. It was a really big difference. I didn’t feel like the size played a huge factor in anything.”
Of course, the one thing Krause did not love about the night was the scoring.
“I felt like I was game the whole fight, I feel like I won the fight, to be honest with you,” he continued. “I don’t want to act like I lost because I don’t think that I did. [A] judge that had me losing the fight gave him round one, so to me…that’s a joke, man. I can’t take you seriously if you think that. I don’t even know what to say to that. It’s absurd. It’s an absurd call.”
This isn’t the first weird scoring Krause has seen as a fighter or coach over the course of his long career. The problems in officiating remain, he believes, in large part because the process of hiring is too political, and there are not sufficient qualification requirements, as well as far too little accountability.?
“There is absolutely no accountability. There’s no prerequisites to be a judge, there’s no continuous study, there’s no reason for them to be good,” he reasons.
Furthermore, Krause says, the whole system of MMA judging is “off on the wrong start” because it clumsily adopted boxing’s 10-point must system. Krause says he also wants to see open scoring in between rounds as well as flat pay for fighters instead of the current “show” and “win” money structure that most fighters have to work with.
Krause’s hectic life is not slowing down at all and he says he’ll be on the road much of the rest of the month cornering more of his athletes. He also has a new contract after signing to fight Giles on short-notice, though he’s not yet sure what’s next for him as a fighter.
There will be time to determine that. For now, the fighter is clearly happy with his decision to fight last week, as well as with how things ended up for him despite not getting the official “win.”
“To be honest with you, I don’t really have a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not happy with the decision but I am proud of my effort. I left everything out there in the third round. I gave everything I had. I’ve never been that tired in my entire life,” he said. "I’m super proud of my effort. I’m super proud of my heart that I displayed. I’m super happy with everything I did except for the win.
“I think they got it wrong, that’s my opinion, right, wrong, or indifferent. I’m happy with everything that I did. Everything that I could control I was really proud of myself for so I’m not going to hang my head low.”
Weird judging and a bad system may have taken money out of Krause’s pocket this time around, but that doesn’t mean he has regrets or feels like he’s lost. ?
“I’ll be honest with you; I don’t feel like a loser. I’ve done seven interviews today…Onward and upward,” he ends. “I entered myself into a win-win position. I knew that going into it. I knew there was no way I could lose. I knew that if we put on half of a show at all, or I won, or I finished, I knew that there was no way they couldn’t give me a bonus. I’m not a stupid guy. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I knew exactly what was on the table and what needed to be done, and I got what I wanted out of it.”
Elias Cepeda writes a regular column for The UG Feed; you can find Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda.