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By Rich Hansen, MMA Torch Columnist
Germany's Pascal Krauss made his UFC debut back in November of 2010 at UFC 122, defeating Mark Scanlon to keep his MMA record perfect at 10-0. Several injuries later, Krauss is in the final stretches of preparation for his second fight in the Octagon, as he takes on John Hathaway at UFC on Fox 3 on May 5. I had a chance to speak with Krauss recently at Duke Roufus' gym in Milwaukee, Wis., where he's been preparing for this bout.
MMATorch: You've won seven fights in your career by submission despite having a reputation as a boxer. Do you see yourself more as a submission fighter more than a standup fighter?
Pascal Krauss: I would say I'm well rounded. If it goes to the ground I'll keep punching. But if the guy turns and gives up that position or gives up his neck or his arm, I will just go for that. I don't like just straight punching and wasting my energy. If I see a submission I go for it.
MMATorch: Other than yourself, the two most famous UFC fighters from Germany are Dennis Siver and Peter Sobotta. What is the relationship like between the three of you?
Krauss: So with Peter Sobotta I'm really close friends. We train together, we prepared for my last fight together. He fought at the same card against Amir Sadollah. We're like really close. Dennis Siver is also a friend of mine, but we don't train that much together, and we're not like hanging out that much. But we still have a good relationship. It's not like a rivalry. There are not that many good MMA fighters in Germany, so there's no need to (be rivals).
MMATorch: What is the MMA culture and atmosphere like back in Germany right now? How well is MMA accepted by the German public, and are German fighters looking to build the scene there, or to train elsewhere?
Krauss: Right now it's growing as the sport tries to spread all over Europe. But with the public it's not all that popular right now. We still have that bad boy image right now. I think it is the same way that it was in the States some years ago. People just see the knockouts and the ground and pound stuff and then they think it's just about beating people up, and there's no technique and no work ethic behind it.
MMATorch: So they're maybe ten or fifteen years behind where we are here in America?
Krauss: Probably. But it gets better, because we're good sportsmen. Dennis Siver, and now me, in the UFC can represent (the sport), and show (the German public) that it is on a high level and that the UFC is a good promotion. They will recognize slowly that it's not just crappy s*** like in backyard fights.
MMATorch: I know Germany has a strong combat sports culture, as the Klitschkos are loved there. It's like every single Klitschko fight is in Germany.
Krauss: Yeah. They sell out huge arenas. Right before I came here I went to the Klitschko heavyweight title fight in Dusseldorf and they sold out 60,000 seats in the arena. And their fights are not all that entertaining. They don't fight high level challengers. They fight cans they can beat up easily, even though people come to watch them. So if people get into MMA, and they will see how entertaining those fights are, where the best guy fights the second-best guy, they will love those fights.
MMATorch: When and why did you make the decision to come to the United Sttes (to train)? (For this visit) how did you decide upon Duke Roufus' camp?
Krauss: I prepared in the States for my last fight (UFC 122, November, 2010). I just like it over here because it's more popular, more professional. You have everything in one gym. Back home I have to cross-train. Go to the boxing club, box with them. Then go to the wrestlers and wrestle with them. Go to another place to do jiu-jitsu. And here it's all in one gym. I have real MMA training over there, but I just do it myself, and get together with some other guys.
And Duke Roufus, RoufuSport has a good reputation. Great wrestling, Ben Askren is here. Great striking like Showtime (Anthony Pettis) and [Alan] Belcher, and [Erik] Koch. Good jiu-jitsu as well. I didn't know that before, but also on the ground it's pretty good here. And I like to be away from home and keep away all the stuff that could (distract) me from training. All that random stuff that happens when you're back home, you know? And right here I can just focus on training and nothing else.
MMATorch: Back in 2010 when you were in the States, you trained with both Renzo Gracie and with Cesar Gracie in California. How do Renzo and Cesar differ as coaches?
Krauss: I didn't get too train that much at Cesar Gracie's gym. I was more in the Bay area with Rolles Gracie, and those guys took me out there (to Cesar's) a couple of times. It's hard to say. Both gyms were pretty good, I got good training out there. I like both places but I can't say how they do it every day because I wasn't there too long to know what they really do on a day to day routine.
MMATorch: Your fight with John Hathaway on May 5 is going to be your first fight outside of Europe. Is it an easier adjustment for you to be training where you're fighting?
Krauss: For me it doesn't matter much where I'm fighting at. It's the same; it's the same Octagon. What's the big factor is the time change, which is another reason why I came here pretty early, so I could get used to the time difference. That and having good training partners here, I think it was a good choice.
MMATorch: At UFC 122 you defeated Mark Scanlon in your UFC debut, and you won fight of the night. What was that experience, fighting for the first time for the UFC in Germany? Does that go down as the best night of your life?
Krauss: Yeah. That was pretty crazy coming out there with 10,000 people screaming for you, then getting the bonus and getting the good fight. That was pretty cool, but I got injured pretty soon after that so I wasn't like going to high. It was a big change from the top to the bottom really fast. That was not that cool.
MMATorch: And when you got injured in August of 2011 training for the first scheduled fight with Hathaway at UFC 138, just how much of a blow was that to you to not get even one fight in 2011 after you had fought five times in 2009 and twice in 2010?
Krauss: That was probably the worst year of my life. After the best night of my life, that was the worst time of my life.
MMATorch: How do you keep an even keel when you're riding a rollercoaster?
Krauss: You just try to stay focused. Do all the stuff you could do. Like, go running, do light weight lifting, and shadow bowing all the time. Mentally preparing for a fight. If it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger, that's what they say, so I hope it's that way.
MMATorch: You've got to be looking forward to this fight, because I would imagine you've had a poster of Hathaway hanging on your wall for a year and a half now. What's the most important thing that you have to do on May 5th to ensure a win?
Krauss: Go in there, do my thing, keep pressuring him, and knock him out or submit him.
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