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James Krause questions UFC 247 judging after loss: ‘Your guess is as good as mine’

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Trevin Giles and James Krause
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Heading into UFC 247, James Krause emerged out of nowhere as one of the event’s most intriguing stories. And he nearly walked out with a win, too.

The 12-year veteran saved Saturday’s event from being one bout shorter, stepping in on less than 48-hours’ notice to fight Trevin Giles after Giles’s original opponent Antonio Arroyo was forced to withdraw following Friday’s weigh-ins. What made the move even more impressive was that Krause would be competing up a division at 185 pounds, something he hadn’t done since his amateur days.

Krause almost picked up the win, attacking Giles with a rear-naked choke in the first-round and apparently out-striking him in the third (Krause had a 29-22 advantage in significant strikes according to UFC Stats). However, when the final scores were tallied, it was Giles who saw his hand raised after a pair of 29-28 scores were issued in his favor.

Despite Krause spending the majority of the opening round attacking from back control, one of the judges even scored the first round for Giles, a verdict that left Krause confused.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Krause told MMA Fighting when asked what the judge in question may have seen. “I have no f*ckin’ idea how anybody could have scored the first round for him.”

“I definitely feel like I took round one,” he continued. “Three was close, but I had more punches thrown, more connected punches, more significant strikes. I felt like I did enough. I pressed the action, I was walking him down. A former lightweight walking a middleweight down, I feel like I was the one pushing the action and trying to win and I still came up short.

“It happens. It gets frustrating, I keep getting reminded there’s this incompetent (judge) who’s a decision maker on 50 percent of my paycheck. It kind of just pisses me off.”

Krause confirmed that his manager Jason House is planning to appeal the decision on his behalf. For now, there are a few positives in which he can take solace.

First, he was able to negotiate a new four-fight deal using his short-notice save as leverage. Second, he and Giles won the “Fight of the Night” award, meaning an extra $50,000 in Krause’s pocket. And lastly, he’s been on the receiving end of what he described as an “overwhelming” amount of praise from friends, family, fans, and peers. One particular supporter that stood out to Krause was former UFC star Chael Sonnen.

“Chael posted a video yesterday talking about me, and it was probably the most inspirational in terms of somebody else talking about me,” Krause said. “He’s obviously an icon in the sport, an innovator and a pioneer, and he said some pretty strong statements in that video and it really meant a lot to me.”

Krause was originally in Houston to corner Factory X teammate Youssef Zalal, who was making his UFC debut. Plans changed and Zalal had to make the walk to the Octagon without Krause – Zalal went on to win a unanimous decision over Austin Lingo – after Krause agreed to help keep Giles on the card.

A veteran of 35 fights now, nobody even bothered trying to talk Krause out of taking the fight, even his wife Shynel.

“She has a blind faith in me, so she didn’t really blink an eye about it,” Krause said. “I’ve done stuff like this before. We’ve been together for 12, 13 years, so she’s around for a long time and she’s seen me do some pretty dumb s*it. This definitely didn’t take the cake on that.

“She’s been around to see a lot of it, she’s very supportive me, and pretty much whatever I wanted to do she’s down with.”

According to Krause, short-notice fights were a common occurrence when he was making his way up through the amateurs and regional scene, so he didn’t think twice about signing on to fight at the last minute.

If anything, he takes a certain pride in being ready to compete at any moment.

“It was the Wild West when I started, we didn’t even weigh in half the time,” Krause said. “It was like, ‘You’re 147, you’re 172, that’s close enough, you’ve got a fight.’ That’s what I started in. It’s a different ballgame, a different era, I feel like I’m one of the few guys left from that era, and I really like to put on for that time period.

“A fighter’s fighter, it was people who got after it, it wasn’t about weight classes, definitely reminded me of my younger days where I was a little less leery about who I fought. It just didn’t matter, it was a good time. I don’t regret any of it.”

Krause entered UFC 247 on a six-fight win streak, including three of four at welterweight. That streak is technically over now, but given his strong performance and the fact that the loss came outside of his division, he’s not too worried about how this affects his standing with the matchmakers.

He’d briefly spoken to them last week about possibly fighting on March 7, but nothing was set in stone, and now he’s looking at a possible summer return (Krause received a provisional suspension that ends on March 10). His first priority is preparing his teammates for their upcoming fights.

When it’s time to talk matchups again, he expects to pick up right where he left off.

“It definitely doesn’t feel like I lost anything,” Krause said. “If anything, I gained something. I really don’t feel like a loser in any of this at all.

“I feel like I made the best move for my career and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”