UFC lightweight James Krause is in the midst of a career resurgence.

After starting his career with a perfect 10-0 record, Krause got a shot in the WEC. After losing back-to-back matches to Donald Cerrone and Ricardo Lamas, he was released from the promotion. Shortly thereafter, he received a chance in Bellator, only to fall victim to an armbar courtesy of Toby Imada.

Following that loss, Krause took a year-long break from mixed martial arts. Upon returning to the sport, he went 4-1 before being selected to be a cast member of season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter. Krause ended up losing his bout against Justin Lawrence and did not make it past the show’s first broadcast.

Krause did not let that knockout loss keep him from working to achieve his end goal of reaching the UFC. Just three months later, he was back in action and won his next four fights. Then, about two weeks before UFC 161, Krause jumped on the opportunity to take on Sam Stout after his original opponent was forced to withdraw from the fight. Krause made the most of the chance given to him and put on a “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” performance as he choked out Stout with just 13 seconds remaining in the fight.

After the Stout fight, Krause took on Bobby Green at UFC Fight for the Troops. Krause was on the receiving end of a questionable kick that caused the referee to wave off the fight. Now 1-1 in his UFC career, he finds himself in the role of kicking off the pay-per-view portion of UFC 173. But to Krause, it’s just another day in the office.

“It’s just another fight. If you let the pressure get to you, you’ll start fighting like crap,” Krause told The MMA Corner.

Across the cage from Krause will be Jamie Varner, another fighter with a ton of experience in mixed martial arts.

“I think Varner is one of the better guys I’ve fought,” said Krause. “He’s a tough guy. He brings certain dangers to the table. He’s pretty well rounded. He has good boxing, good wrestling, good jiu-jitsu. He brings a little bit of everything to the table, so I’m excited to fight him. I’m excited to figure out that puzzle.

“I’m pretty stoked about the match-up. I feel pretty good about it.”

In Varner’s last fight, against Abel Trujillo, he came out of the gates quickly and slugged it out for a round and a half before Trujillo landed the punch that knocked Varner out. Krause, while known for having excellent striking, has been using his reach advantage more and more in his recent bouts. If things go as planned, Krause sees things going the same way Saturday night.

“I’m gonna stay long and avoid the firefights,” Krause explained. “There’s certain things we’ve been working on to change things up and take a different approach. I’m not going to give away my game plan, but we’re working on changing things up and bringing new elements to the table.”

Should Krause come out victorious against Varner, one could make a strong case that he should be ranked in the top 15 of the UFC’s lightweight division. If he wins in impressive fashion—combined with how great he looked against Stout—he could very well end up with one of the elites of the division, but Krause has some lingering doubts.

“I’m not sure [about being ranked],” he said. “I don’t know how much weight they’ll put in that last loss.

“It’s not something I’m thinking about, to be honest with you. I generally try to take it one fight at a time. If they put me where they put me, it is what it is. They obviously think highly of me or they wouldn’t be putting me up against these good fighters. I’ve fought Stout, Bobby Green and now Jamie Varner, and they’re all top-level fighters, so the UFC must think highly of me as well.”

As a veteran of 25 professional fights at the age of 27, Krause is very happy with his current position. He’s very happy that he has the chance to fight high-level competition instead of The Ultimate Fighter alum. With that being said, he hinted that this may be his last run at the top.

“I love the match-ups they’ve given me, and I think they’re all good match-ups for me. And, you know, I’m at the point of my career where it’s like ‘Let’s do this.’ If I can’t beat these guys, then maybe I don’t need to be there,” Krause said. “But, right now, I’m looking at Jamie Varner. Win, lose or draw, we always go back to the drawing board and reassess, no matter what happens.

“I have a lot of stuff going on outside of fighting. I want these big fights. I don’t want to fight these Ultimate Fighter guys for two or three years until I get my shot. I want the big guys now to test myself and see where I am.”

So, with all that being said, what can fans expect to see Saturday night?

“First-round guillotine,” Krause declared with absolutely no hesitation.

There’s no doubting Krause is starting to hit the prime of his career. His fight against Varner Saturday night at UFC 173 will tell us if Krause is the real deal. However, regardless of the outcome of the fight, expect to see great things from Krause, both inside and outside of the Octagon.

Follow Krause on Twitter: @TheJamesKrause