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Despite win streak, James Krause not letting results dictate fighting future: ‘I want to be done on my terms’

James Krause (pictured, left) fights Sergio Moraes in a welterweight bout at UFC Sao Paulo on Saturday
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

For someone who hasn’t suffered an official loss in more than four years, James Krause speaks like a fighter closer to retirement than a title shot.

Krause has won five straight fights, excluding a semifinal loss to Jesse Taylor on the “Redemption” season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2017 (TUF bouts are listed as exhibitions). Even taking that setback into account, that’s seven wins in his last eight competing at both 155 and 170 pounds. He competes again at welterweight this Saturday at UFC Sao Paulo when he takes on Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Sergio Moraes.

It’s been 15 months since Krause’s last fight, a knockout win over Warlley Alves, and during that stretch, fans have seen more of Krause cornering in-between rounds than in the center of the Octagon. The 33-year-old has developed a strong passion for coaching over the years, and he’s looking forward to continuing in that role well after he’s retired, even with his own career still thriving.

“The hardest thing to do in this sport is to quit,” Krause told MMA Fighting. “I don’t want to be the guy that my coach has to have that conversation like, ‘Hey man, you’ve lost two in a row, three in a row now. You just don’t have it anymore.’ I don’t want to put him in the position to have that conversation, I don’t want to put my family in position to have that conversation, so if you look at that like, when do you quit? When are you done? And that’s the tough thing is there’s no blueprint on when to be done in this sport.

“I’ll tell you this: I don’t know when I’m gonna be done – I’m not gonna put a statement on that – but I want people to say, ‘Man, I think he quit a little too early.’ I would rather that than people say, ‘Oh God, he should have quit two years ago.’ I don’t need to fight to make money any more, and I think that’s where a lot of people are stuck at. I definitely want to be on the end of people thinking I quit a little too early than a little too late. Really, there’s no set time to be done. When I’m done, I want to be done on top, and I want to be done on my terms, not on somebody else’s.”

The matchup with Moraes is somewhat of a head-scratcher given that Krause is trending upwards and “Serginho” is actually coming off of two straight losses. Even stranger, Moraes’s most recent fight was a knockout loss to Alves, who Krause just beat.

Asked if he found the booking peculiar, Krause answered, “The butcher can only slaughter the animals brought to him,” before explaining why Moraes presents such an intriguing challenge.

“I would say he is the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu guy I’ve ever faced,” Krause said. “I think that’s a safe statement to say. I like it. The fight is dangerous. People keep saying I just knocked out Warlley, and Warlley just knocked him out. Well that’s not how MMA math works, you guys know that. Styles make fights. For me, it’s a very, very dangerous fight. I feel like on paper this is a fight that I should win, but there is a very, very high danger factor that comes with this fight and because of that it’s why I’m very intrigued with it and it fires me up.

“I think that I’m gonna bring some new stuff to the table. I don’t think that he’s gonna be able to hang with me. I feel like as some of these guys get older they start to slow down and they start to train less, and I feel like it’s the opposite for me. I’m the best I’ve ever been, the fastest, the strongest, and I think I’m showing that. That’s not just my opinion because a lot of people can say that. If you look at my progression, I think I’m showing that.”

Eleven years into his pro career, Krause will be checking one milestone when he fights in Brazil. In fact, it will be his first time competing outside of North America. But don’t expect him to wax poetic about it. In the past, he’d actually been reluctant to take a bout in Brazil due to the extra tax involved in fighting there, and it’s only because the tax was recently lifted that he signed the contract.

That’s Krause to a tee these days: To the point and pragmatic. He still enjoys fighting, but admits that he’s finding more fulfillment in coaching these days (“I feel like the old adage is ‘help somebody accomplish their dreams and you’ll accomplish all yours,’” he said). Finding success in running his Glory MMA & Fitness gyms in Missouri and guiding his teammates to victory are both aspects of his life that go a long way to scratching that competitive itch.

He’ll enjoy his own wins too. and should they keep coming, he won’t shy away from taking one last run to the top.

“I take it one fight at a time and if the next fight is a top-15 guy and I decide to do that and I beat him, the next guy is a top-10 guy, I beat him, if that’s where it goes, that’s where it goes,” Krause said. “I’m not against any of that, it’s not something that’s super important to me or that I lose sleep over or anything like that.

“Absolutely, 1000 percent, I feel like I can compete with anybody in the world. I’ve trained with a lot of these guys, and I know training isn’t fighting, but I know that I can compete with any of them. If that’s where it goes, that’s where it goes. We’ll see, I have Sergio in front of me right now, I don’t want to disrespect him or the game. I have to get past him first, but after that, we’ll see what’s next. If it’s top-10, top-15, and we decide to do it, I’m down, 100 percent.”

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