James Krause says hostile crowd at UFC Sao Paulo powered him to KO: ‘I feed off the energy’

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.’”

Off Guard: Sam Alvey hopes canceled ‘Shogun’ Rua fight can be rebooked


TEMECULA, Calif. – Sam Alvey was supposed to be facing Brazilian legend Mauricio Rua on Saturday at UFC on ESPN+ 22, but a broken hand in sparring put an end to a matchup he admits is his dream fight.

Alvey told MMA Junkie things are on track for a quick recovery after an unfortunate accident in training.

“I don’t think it could have been avoided,” he said. “I was just trading with one of my training partners, Jared ‘The Mountain’ Vanderaa, and I threw, and I was coming over, and I don’t know what happened. I didn’t roll my hand fast enough … and I caught him square on the forehead. He’s all right, though, so don’t worry about him.”

As for the injury itself, it’s just a case of letting nature take its course after getting the bones pinned. In typical Alvey fashion, he’s dealing with the layoff with his trademark smile on his face.

“The hand’s doing well,” he said. “It’s getting a bit better every day. They put the three pins in. The pins come out in three weeks-ish. Then I start the rehab. It’s going well – it’s going in the right direction.”

The fight with “Shogun” was all set to be a magic moment for the affable American, who admitted he had harbored hopes of a matchup with the former UFC light heavyweight champion and PRIDE legend throughout his career.

“I have wanted to fight ‘Shogun’ for almost my whole career, just out of respect,” he explained. “He’s as good as that’s ever been. He’s got fights in the Hall of Fame. He will be in the UFC Hall of Fame. I would love to fight him. I’d love to beat him, too. But to be able to share that fight camp knowing he’s at the end, it would be the highlight of my career.”

Alvey’s injury now means he has been reduced to the role of interested spectator when Rua returns to action against Scottish submission ace Paul Craig in Sao Paulo. The Wisconsin native admitted that, while he has no axe to grind with Craig, he’d be siding with the Brazilian.

“I’m rooting for ‘Shogun’ because I’m always rooting for ‘Shogun,’” Alvey said. “Unless he’s fighting me or (Dan Henderson), I’m rooting for ‘Shogun’ at all times. I like Craig. It’s kind of a short-notice fight for him, I believe, so I think the advantage (goes) to ‘Shogun.’ But I’m really just excited to see the fight.”

It says a lot about Alvey’s personality that he can still be excited to see his opponent fight while he’s forced to sit out and rest his injury. But Alvey said he hopes the UFC might do him a solid down the line and rebook him against the Brazilian legend once they’re both fit and ready to fight again.

“Win or lose, I hope to be ‘Shogun’s’ next fight,” he said.

“The UFC has given me the lifestyle I never dreamed I’d have. They don’t owe me anything. But I have done a lot for them and I would love this fight opportunity again.”

Davey Grant promises improvement after UFC Moscow victory: ‘I can do 10 times better than that’

British UFC bantamweight Davey Grant is back in the win column but says he knows significantly better performances are just around the corner after admitting he was disappointed in his display in Russia.

Prior to his split-decision win over Grigorii Popov at UFC on ESPN+ 21 in Moscow, the Bishop Auckland man hadn’t picked up a victory in the UFC since his unanimous decision win over Marlon Vera at UFC Fight Night 84 in London back in February 2016.

It meant there was a certain amount of pressure on the 33-year-old heading into the contest, but he stepped up to the challenge and picked up a hard-earned victory to right the ship after a tricky few years battling injuries and poor form.

“It was super important,” he said, as he reflected on his performance. “Every fight is always massive, but it’s just really nice to go and get back in the win column. It had been a while since I’d won.

“I didn’t have the greatest of performances last time out, and I know I’m a lot better than that, so it’s nice to get the win and show a fraction of what I’m capable of, (but) I still feel that I’ve got a lot more to give.”

Grant (9-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) admitted that his previous performance – a first-round submission defeat to Manny Bermudez at UFC Fight Night 134 in July 2018 – saw him succumb to complacency as he was caught by “The Bermudez Triangle” in his namesake triangle choke in the first minute of the bout.

“The fight before, I came in a bit too complacent,” he said. “I feel like I’m sort of finding my feet again now, when before I just got a bit too confident and then obviously got beat pretty bad. I just needed to realize that I’ve still got to go and put in the work; it’s not going to do itself.”

Grant said that although he picked up the victory in Moscow, he didn’t put in the performance he wanted. And the Englishman vowed to bring more action and aggression to the octagon in his next outing.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in myself, as I wasn’t as aggressive as I usually am, and I was a little bit cautious,” he admitted. “I usually throw a lot more combinations, and I usually get into a lot more of a fight. I think I was slightly worried about getting clipped because of the fight before, where I thought I was so much better than the guy opposite me but ended up getting dropped by a big right hand.

“I’m usually a lot more of an exciting fighter, and I thought I played the game a little bit, but I managed to sneak out the win. I’m pleased overall but know I can do 10 times better than that, so (I’m) a little disappointed.

“For the next fight, I just want to go back to the way I fight, be a bit more aggressive, taking the fight to my opponent and just keep on improving in all areas.”

And the modest Brit, who earned his spot in the UFC after reaching the final of “The Ultimate Fighter 18” back in 2013, said he hopes to be back in the cage sooner rather than later in a bid to build some momentum in early 2020.

“I’ve got no injuries; I’m literally just going to start training straight away, keep the weight down and then get back in the octagon as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ve never been someone who picks a fight. I always let Sean Shelby do his work and then just turn up on the day. I’m literally comfortable with anything.”

But while calling out opponents might not be Grant’s style, he did admit he’d love to make his first appearance of 2020 on home soil at the UFC’s annual date at The O2 Arena in London in March.

“Yes, I think it’s very logical – I love to fight in England any time I get the chance,” Grant said. “But if UFC wants me to go abroad and fight, I’ll go abroad and fight. I’ll literally fight anyone, anywhere. As long as I’m fighting, I’m really not fussed.”

Defining Fights: Bellator 234 headliner Sergei Kharitonov

Sergei Kharitonov has been throwing hands with the world’s best for more than a decade and a half in a career that has taken him from Russia to Japan to the U.S.

Now set for action in the main event at Bellator 234 in Tel Aviv, Israel, “The Paratrooper” looks to continue his winning run with victory over two-time former light heavyweight title challenger Linton Vassell.

Ahead of his main event clash with the Brit, we take a look back at six of the key fights that helped define the career of one of MMA’s longest-serving heavyweight stalwarts.

Semmy Schilt at PRIDE Critical Countdown – June 20, 2004

Arguably the performance that first put Kharitonov on the map came more than 15 years ago, back in the summer of 2004, when he finished 7-foot-tall Dutch kickboxing legend Semmy Schilt in the first round of their matchup in Japan.

Kharitonov headed into the bout known as a boxer and kickboxer, but he leaned on his ground skills to take decorated kickboxing superstar Schilt off his feet and mount the big Dutchman.

Once on top, Kharitonov methodically proceeded to smash Schilt with heavy-duty ground and pound to eliminate one of the pre-tournament favorites from the lineup and announce himself as a threat to PRIDE’s most dangerous men at heavyweight.

Joe Giannetti steps up to face Paddy Pimblett at Cage Warriors 111 in London

Former UFC and “The Ultimate Fighter 27” athlete Joe Giannetti is all set to step up and face one of Cage Warriors’ biggest stars on just 10 days’ notice at Cage Warriors 111.

Giannetti (8-2-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who has competed three times already for the Boston-based Cage Titans promotion in 2019, has signed to face former Cage Warriors featherweight champion Paddy Pimblett in a lightweight bout at the Indigo at The O2 on Friday, Nov. 22.

The fight will represent Giannetti’s third bout in five months as he looks to follow up on his first-round TKO finish of Keenan Raymond at Cage Titans 45 in August.

The 24-year-old impressed with his submission skills during the 27th season of “TUF,” as he claimed back-to-back first-round finishes of John Gunther and Allan Zuniga to earn a spot in the final, but he was defeated for the UFC contract by Mike Trizano. Now the Massachusetts native said he sees his upcoming fight with Pimblett as a potential springboard back into the UFC and a second chance in the octagon.

“This is a fight that international fight fans have wanted for a while,” Giannetti (8-2-1) said. “I’ve got a goal to get back into the UFC, Paddy’s got a goal to get to the UFC, so we’re going to find out who’s the other’s stepping stone.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Pimblett (14-3) said he was grateful to Giannetti for agreeing to step up on short notice, but said that doing so was a bad career move for the American.

“Stepping in on 10 days’ notice, most people wouldn’t do it,” Pimblett admitted. “Considering everyone says they want to fight me, when the opportunity came up, they all went missing.

“I’m grateful to Joe for stepping up, but it’s a bad decision for him. I don’t think he’s been finished before, so this will be the first time he’s been finished in his career.”

Pimblett is looking to bounce back following his unanimous decision loss to Soren Bak at Cage Warriors 96 in September 2018, but his originally-scheduled opponent, Belgium’s Donovan Desmae, was forced off the upcoming card through injury.

It left the door open for Giannetti, who is heading to London looking to claim a big-name British scalp. And he had a word of warning for “The Baddy” ahead of their matchup next weekend.

“I hope he’s not expecting an easy night because I got the call last minute,” he said. “We bring a different type of energy in Boston.”

The event will be headlined by a trio of title fights, with James Webb, Mads Burnell and Modestas Bukauskas putting their middleweight, featherweight and light heavyweight titles on the line respectively.

Confirmed fights for Cage Warriors 111 include:

MAIN CARD

  • Champ James Webb vs. Nathias Frederick – for middleweight title
  • Champ Mads Burnell vs. Steve Aimable – for featherweight title
  • Champ Modestas Bukauskas vs. Riccardo Nosiglia – for light heavyweight title)
  • Joe Giannetti vs. Paddy Pimblett
  • Alex Lohore vs. Joilton Santos

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Ayton de Paepe vs. Cory Tait
  • Mike Ekundayo vs. Luca Iovine
  • Harry Davies vs. Josh Onwordi
  • Adam Amarasinghe vs. Johan Segas
  • Matthew Bonner vs. Warren Kee
  • Jordan Barton vs. James Hendin
  • Scott Butters vs. Kingsley Crawford
  • Daryl Golding vs. Emrah Sonmez