Drakkar Klose is certainly not happy with the way things played out on the eve of UFC Vegas 24.
Following the official weigh-ins for the event earlier this month, Klose and Jeremy Stephens, who were scheduled to compete in the co-main event at the APEX, would have their staredown ahead of the matchup. As he got face-to-face with his opponent, Stephens delivered a hard shove to the chest of an unsuspecting Klose, which further built anticipation for the 155-pound bout.
Unfortunately, as the broadcast began, it was announced that the fight was off due to an injury to Klose. It was revealed that the Arizona native suffered a concussion and a cervical sprain of the neck due to the impact of Stephens’ shove.
A little over one week after the fight was postponed, Klose is starting to feel better after several days of painful headaches.
“I’m doing a lot better,” Klose said on What the Heck. “My headaches stopped on Thursday leading into the weekend. That was my biggest concern was the headaches. They were pretty bad. Then I got an MRI on my neck, and I guess I have a herniated disc, so I’m just dealing with that now.
“I didn’t have headaches after I got knocked out by Beneil [Dariush]. I think, doing that weight cut, I only had like 10 ounces of water in me before we did the staredown, and I was still dehydrated. It’s just crazy how that whiplash can do that to you.”
Since the staredown took place, Klose has been on a roller coaster of emotions, not just for himself, but also sent his direction from fans. While it certainly has been an unfortunate situation, he has been able to see some silver linings.
“It’s been a lot of hate,” Klose explained. “A lot of hate, but a lot of people have been telling me their situations, and their problems with neck injuries and stuff like that. I’m just glad I didn’t step in that cage that night. One punch, it could’ve changed my life. Dealing with your brain, you only get one brain and you have to be smart. I’m just glad I had the right people around me and I didn’t fight.”
When the fighters walked on stage to face off, Stephens and a masked Klose got eye to eye before the shove. Asked if anything was said in that moment since it was unclear from all angles, Klose chalked everything up to Stephens being unprofessional, which left a bad taste in his mouth.
“I didn’t say anything to him,” Klose said. “Maybe he listened to some of my interviews leading up to the fight and he got mad about that. But other than that, when we faced off I was quiet. I was in there, ready to do these face-offs and fight the next day. I think he thought it was Bellator since they compete on Friday. Wrong promotion, I think he thought he was in Bellator.
“But I was pissed off, man. That was a big opportunity to go in there and beat him up in a co-main event. And for people to think that I really wasn’t injured, that pisses me off. I kind of want to get street justice on him. If I see him, I swear, I’m gonna get him.”
After several days after the unfortunate incident occurred, MMA Fighting confirmed that Klose would get paid his show money, along with his promotional compliance pay from the UFC’s sponsorship deal with Venum.
Prior to UFC 261, Dana White spoke with TSN and was asked if any rules should be put in place to prevent further incidents from happening. The UFC president gave his explanation, and also put the blame on matchmaker Sean Shelby.
“There is a rule,” White said. “That’s why we’re there. Sean Shelby missed that one. Sean and I see this thing differently. I saw it on social media and called him immediately. ... I saw the thing happen on social media and I called Sean and I was like, ‘Where was your head on that one?’ He was coming in hot and it’s Jeremy Stephens, he’s a savage.
“I mean, we’re not standing there to look good and take pictures. We’re there to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Klose saw White’s comments and admits he was not overly thrilled with them, most notably, the UFC president seemingly giving Stephens some shine for being aggressive on the stage.
“According to Dana White, that’s a savage move he did,” Klose said. “I had seen some interview and he was talking like, ‘Jeremy’s a savage’ – no, that’s a bitch move. I believe I should’ve gotten paid both [win and show money], I came, I was being professional and I did everything possible. He f*cked it up, not me.
“I like [UFC matchmaker] Sean [Shelby]. It wasn’t his fault. We signed a contract and we’re professionals. Act professional.
“It sucks. I came, I was professional and I got injured on the job,” Klose continued. “All I know is any other sport, if they do something like that, they either get fined or suspended. So it just sets a bad example for everyone else.
“But I signed a contract to fight that Saturday, not Friday. I was at my weakest point, cutting weight, and that was a cheap shot. I had my hands behind my back. Dude, that’s something you do when you’re afraid, they do cheap shots. And that’s what I feel he did.
In a perfect world, when Klose is cleared to compete, the fight with Stephens will get rebooked. He hasn’t been able to train or do anything strenuous since the shoving incident due to the lingering effects of the concussion and other injuries he suffered.
He hopes to return to action and fight Stephens in a professional capacity sometime this summer. However, Klose vows that when he sees his rival—in or out of the cage—he plans on the fight starting right there and then.
“I would love to fight him,” Klose said. “I’m not sure how long it’s gonna take to [recover] from my neck getting injured. I still haven’t done anything to try and get my heart rate up, so I’m not sure how my head will respond to that. But I want to get in there and fight him. He knows he was gonna get his ass whooped that night, and that’s why he did that. I can’t wait to get in there and beat him up.
“I think they’re gonna come to Phoenix, and I hope it’s in July or August because I should be good around there and I hope the UFC books this again because I’m gonna put some pain on him. I’m gonna make that ref pull me off and I’m still gonna hit him. I’m just pissed about the whole situation. It sucks, and he’s praised for it. I don’t like that.
“But when I see him, it’s on. Every time I see him, I’m gonna fight him.”