LAS VEGAS — It’s been five years since James Krause had a chance on The Ultimate Fighter Live. He lost by knockout to Justin Lawrence in the elimination round and never made it into the house for TUF 15 in 2012.
Krause regretted the experience so much that he threw his name in the hat for The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption — even though he’s already firmly entrenched on the UFC roster.
Part of the allure of doing TUF 25, which is made up of all former TUF competitors, is getting back into the UFC. Krause is already there and has won two in a row.
“I don’t think I have the answer that everybody is looking for,” Krause told MMA Fighting recently at a TUF 25 media day. “I just wanted to do it. I felt kind of slighted in my first go-around. It was just something I wanted to do. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and I wanted to prove to myself that I would win.”
Krause (23-7) has not fought since a unanimous decision win over Shane Campbell in February 2016. Family issues and a hamstring injury sidelined him over the rest of the year. But when the opportunity to do The Ultimate Fighter came up and he was healthy, he jumped at the chance. The $250,000 prize at the end didn’t exactly make him less enthusiastic, either.
“It’s basically the opposite of what we’re used to,” Krause said. “We’re using to doing our training camp at home, not being next to anybody that you’re fighting, creating game plans. And then we go to this huge venue where there are thousands of people watching. Now, this is the opposite of that. I sleep [in the same room as] guys that I can potentially fight. When you do fight, there’s nobody in here. It’s really different. It’s a different experience.”
Another big difference for Krause is that he’s been competing in the UFC at lightweight. The TUF season is at welterweight. Getting down to 155 is tough for the Missouri native, he said, and he’ll consider fighting at welterweight in the future, too, when he’s back on the main roster. After the show, Krause said he’ll talk to UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby and decide what the best move is for him.
The TUF season he missed was coached by the bantamweight champion and top contender: Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, respectively. This one is, too. Cody Garbrandt, the UFC 135-pound titleholder, is coaching opposite rival and former champ T.J. Dillashaw.
There is a lot of heat between both men. They are former training partners at Team Alpha Male and things have been tense between Dillashaw and that camp since Dillashaw departed in 2015. The war of words has already begun.
As far the cast, there are some well known names like Joe Stevenson, Jesse Taylor, Eddie Gordon, and Ramsey Nijem. Taylor and another cast member Julian Lane are remembered for their drunken antics on Ultimate Fighter seasons of the past.
All of those elements together, Krause said, make for a very interesting season. The Ultimate Fighter’s ratings have gone down after its time as the UFC’s must-watch reality series and the main thing that got MMA on cable television. But Krause promises this season will be worth checking out.
“I will say this, for the fans that say that the show is no longer relevant, I highly encourage you to watch this season, because there is a lot going on and it is definitely going to be entertaining from multiple standpoints,” Krause said. “I definitely think it’s lost some of its steam, but I think with the cast that we have, there’s a lot of loyal following with the people that are here. And even with the casual fan that doesn’t necessarily follow any of us, there’s lot going on this season. There’s a lot of controversy.
“It’s been an interesting stay. There’s never a dull day here. I’m a huge MMA fan and I’m excited to watch the show from a fan perspective as well.”
At the time of this interview, Krause had been in the house for a few weeks. Despite already having a spot in the UFC, he was glad he decided to embark on this experience.
“We’ve been through most of it now,” Krause said. “I would do it all over again.”