When welterweight Pascal Krauss steps into the Octagon next Saturday night (May 5, 2012), it will be a re-debut of sorts.
"Panzer" premiered at UFC 122 back in November of 2010, garnering "Fight of the Night" honors for his domination of Mark Scanlon, but he hasn't been heard from since.
The undefeated former Cage Warriors champion has been plagued by injuries and bad luck, which has kept him out of the cage for a whopping 19 months, but the German-born fighter remains optimistic about his chances.
Krauss teamed up with Duke Roufus in Milwaukee for much of the past few months in preparation for his upcoming fight against John Hathaway on the UFC on FOX 3 preliminary card. Hathaway has also been out for over a year while dealing with injuries so he's hoping their cage rust will cancel out.
The clobbering kraut spoke with MMAmania.com about the frustrations of the past two years, being an MMA role model for Germany and perhaps finally finding a training home in America in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about the move to Roufusport Gym. You started in Germany, you went to Brazil, you've been at Renzo Gracie's and you've been at Cesar Gracie's. What was it that made you decide that this was the place for you this time?
Pascal Krauss: I always like to go out and get some new experience, some new forms and new techniques, get to know some new people. This camp had a good reputation: Ben Askren - great wrestler, Anthony Pettis, Alan Belcher and Erik Koch - great strikers, and so I thought it's gonna be a good camp for me and so far it is. I really love it out here.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Duke Roufus has this reputation for inspiring creativity where a lot of his fighters do things most fighters wouldn't even try. Has that affected you in terms of trying out new things?
Pascal Krauss: Yeah, of course. I've been learning a lot of stuff outside the box. Also, he knows exactly what's working in MMA. You can't just take boxing, thai boxing and kickboxing in MMA, you have to make little adjustments to make it work in our sport because there's smaller gloves and you have to worry about takedowns and all that stuff. He's really good at knowing what's good for MMA and what's not. We're working on a lot of good stuff.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been a bit of a nomad with your training, but do you see this as being a place you could stay for longer than normal?
Pascal Krauss: Yeah, of course. I still have to go back to Germany because I have to finish my studies there, going back to the university program, but after that, I'm hoping to stay in the states and stay there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I was just gonna ask about that. You balance being a student and a professional fighters. How difficult is that to balance?
Pascal Krauss: It's not so bad. It's still better than having to have a regular job, like working 40 hours a week and then doing all the fighting stuff. I just finish classes, work a little bit on my studies and then I work out in MMA. it's not that bad but I'm looking forward to the time when I'm done with all the studying so I can just focus on the sport for a while.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've only had the one UFC fight and that was on the preliminary card and that was back before the UFC started showing all the prelim fights. Do you feel like this is a prime opportunity for a reintroduction of sorts to UFC fans?
Pascal Krauss: Yeah, I think this is a great opportunity. The FOX card means MMA is getting more mainstream with the UFC. It means more people will be watching so the other thing is it's a good way to get my name out there, make me more popular.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Part of the reason you've been sidelined for so long was the shoulder injury. How frustrating was it having to sit out all of 2011 because of getting injured and having to heal up?
Pascal Krauss: It was really bad. It was probably the worst time of my life so far, coming from the "Fight of the Night" victory at the UFC and I just felt so displaced. I couldn't do anything that I like. I like fighting. I like sports. I like to move and I couldn't do that for six months so that was pretty frustrating but I'm back now and training is going good and I feel 100 percent again. I'm looking forward and not thinking about that very much.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Are you concerned at all because there's a couple high profile fighters who have returned from shoulder injuries like Cain Velasquez and Jon Fitch and they didn't do so well. Do you feel like your shoulder is going to be a different case than them?
Pascal Krauss: That's always like an issue with rehab. I think it depends on which part of your body gets injured. Maybe I'll be a bit rusty, but John Hathaway has been out for a while as well. We both are in a similar position. It should be even. I spar a lot right now and I hope that helps me getting over the ring rust. I'm hoping I don't make mistakes.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So is it a big help that John Hathaway has been sidelined almost as long as you have? He'll have been out for about 14 months by the time this fight takes place.
Pascal Krauss: Yep, it's good. That's another thing I like about this match-up. I like Hathaway because he's a really good guy and he's faced some top guys in the UFC and beat some. On the other side, I believe I can beat him and the fact that he's been out for a while makes that even more realistic to me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got a few questions about Germany. The UFC broke into the country with two events, but it seems like it's been going backwards since then. Is that frustrating that they haven't been as accepting as the UFC was hoping?
Pascal Krauss: Yeah, a little bit. it's not that bad as it seems. I think it's still growing. More people are getting into MMA and doing the sport and I think we will just have to wait a few years, get more good guys out of Germany representing the sport and competing on a high level and the German people will figure out how great the sport is and watch those guys fight and it's not just backyard violence.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel any pressure at all, being young, undefeated and being one of the MMA role models from Germany?
Pascal Krauss: Yes, of course. There's always pressure on you. No matter where I fight or who I fight, there's always pressure on me and I always want to win. Being one of the few German fighters in the UFC makes no difference to me. I fight for myself, not a team. It's no big difference.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): John Hathaway has a very well-rounded skillset just like you. What do you think is one of the key differences in your game which will put you over the top against him?
Pascal Krauss: I will come out and do my thing, make him fight my fight and that's the most important thing. It's gonna be a great fight, i can tell you that. He's well-rounded, I'm well-rounded. It's gonna be a real MMA fight. Both guys like to stand up, wrestle and go to the ground. It's going to be entertaining for sure. I think I will get the job done from here.
Pascal would like to thank all the guys at the Duke Roufus gym, his training partners, his sponsors and everyone back home. You can follow him on Twitter @PascalKrauss.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Krauss be able to overcome the ring rust and defeat Hathaway next week? What are your expectations for the undefeated German in the UFC?