As both a fan and journalist, I’ve been following rising UFC lightweight James Krause (21-5) for a few years now. I first met James at Titan FC 17, where he defeated his opponent via head kick knockout less than a minute into the fight.

For the next two weeks after that bout, the word of the day at my day job became “Kraused,” Adj. 1. To knockout an opponent via head kick; 2. Winning a fight while landing only one strike.

Example: “Damn, that guy just got Kraused!”

After that night in Kansas City, Krause went through highs, lows, and highs again. In his next bout, he lost a decision against Clay French in what one could call a very lackluster performance. Krause bounced back and won his next three fights to earn a chance to compete on The Ultimate Fighter Live, but fell short of earning a place in the TUF house, losing by knockout in his bout with Justin Lawrence.

Since that setback, Krause has gone on terror, winning six of his last seven bouts, including his UFC debut against Sam Stout. But more impressive that his record is how he has evolved as a fighter.

At 6′ 2″, Krause is a towering lightweight with one of the longest—if not the longest—reaches in the UFC. Since I first saw him nearly four years ago, I have seen the evolution of his game. He has learned how to fight as a tall fighter. He has learned how to dictate the pace of a fight. He has greatly improved his mental approach to fighting.

“I’m on of the biggest guys in the division,” Krause told The MMA Corner. “It may not look like it because of my height, but I cut more weight than probably 95 percent of the guys in my division. I’m stronger than I ever have been and I’m more able to deal with the short and stalky guys. All my physical attributes have come together and I think that’s a big part of my recent success.”

“At 6′ 2″ in the division, it makes sense to sit behind the jab and be a lot longer than the guys I’m fighting. I think it’s the evolution of my striking game coming along to be a part of my success.

“I have the ability to hit people and not get hit as much. I think it’s a big asset to my style.”

Basically, he a completely different fighter. The James Krause who was defeated by Donald Cerrone at WEC 41 in 2009 would get destroyed by the James Krause that will be fighting at UFC 178.

“I would say my attitude is different. I’ve worked with some mental coaches and that’s been a big asset to my game; to believe I can do great things. To believe I can be the best in the world, coupled with getting stronger physically, I think are the main differences (between the Krause three years ago and the Krause today).”

At UFC 178, Krause will be taking on Jorge Masvidal (27-8, #12 lightweight). While there are a few similarities between Masvidal and Krause’s last opponent, Jamie Varner, Krause is quick to bring up how he believes Masvidal poses a different kind of threat.

“He’s well rounded. He has great striking, good jiu-jitsu, and he stops the takedown very well. He very well rounded; he’s dangerous everywhere. He’s a tough guy and hard to finish, but he doesn’t finish well himself.”

With a win over Masvidal Saturday night, nobody will be able to deny that Krause is more than deserving of being ranked in the division. In previous conversations, James was quick to point out that rankings really didn’t mean that much to him. But now in this stage of his career, his attitude has changed a bit.

“I owe it to myself to give it my best shot. Rather it be in the top 15 or to become champion one day, I think I owe it to myself to give it my best run. So I think wanting to get ranked is just one step closer to giving it my best effort.”

About The Author

Jason Lundgren

I have been an MMA reporter/opinion writer for over 10 years. I play WAY too many video games. I'm not on Twitter much, but follow me @JLundgrenSports