James Krause made a winning return from a 15-month layoff to score a bonus-winning third-round knockout of Sergio Moraes at UFC on ESPN+ 22 in Sao Paulo. And the 34-fight veteran said that he felt no ill effects of his time away from active competition.
On the ESPN+ post-fight show, Krause (27-7 MMA, 8-3 UFC) said that any concerns about possible ring rust laid elsewhere and he didn’t consider it a factor heading into his fight.
“I don’t really believe in ring rust,” he said. “I know it’s kind of a bit of a weird topic in MMA, but I’ve just had a son. He’s about 2 months old – that’s part of the reason for the layoff.
“But I’ve been fighting for 13 years. I have over 60 fights, pro and amateur. I know how to fight. The layoff doesn’t do anything. It’s not a factor for me. And with my style – I’m a high-volume guy – I just don’t think it matters. I think that’s a gun-shy thing, where people go out and they just don’t throw their normal amount of volume. My style is to go out there and get after you early, and I just don’t think it’s ever an issue for me.”
Another thing the focused, yet laid-back Krause wasn’t concerned about was Moraes’ ground game. The Sao Paulo native has submitted more than half of his victims during his MMA career, but Krause said he was confident in his own grappling skills ahead of the matchup.
“I honestly was not worried about his grappling,” he said. “I’m a black belt too – I’m a first-degree black belt – so I roll with three-time world champions.”
Despite being confident he could hang with Moraes (14-6-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) on the mat, his decision to keep standing back up and calling his man back to his feet was less to do with the skills matchup on the mat, and much more about the clear advantage Krause had in the stand-up.
“I wasn’t afraid of his grappling.” he said. “I feel like he was stalling me out, and what’s the point? I’m dominating the striking, so what’s the point of me hitting his gloves and stuff? So I’m gonna make him stand back up.
“I think I dropped him in the second and I saw his eyes roll back a bit, and I started hammer-fisting. He came back to a little bit, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna let him stand up. I’m dominating. There’s no point me even hanging around here giving him a chance to win.’ So I let him back up and it worked out good.
“The same thing (happened) in the third. I looked at my team and said, ‘There’s a minute left – do you want me to go back down?’ And my coach goes, ‘No, let him back up. Knock him the (blank) out.’”
While Krause’s composure throughout the fight was a key factor in him earning a third-round stoppage, his ability to embrace the unique atmosphere generated by Brazilian fight fans also played its part. While the Sao Paulo fans did their best to intimidate the American, Krause smiled off the chants and at one point put his finger to his lips to tell the crowd to calm down.
“This (atmosphere) is exactly what I thought it would be,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, so I feed off the energy – good or bad, it doesn’t matter to me. This city is a fighting culture, and I really like to be in those cities where the people are into it.
“When we close the door, they can’t help him, they can’t help me. It’s just him and I out there and our teams versus each other, and we’ve gotta figure it out on the fly. So I don’t really worry about what they say, and that’s why I was like, ‘Shhhh – be quiet.’”