Last night (Sat., May 24, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Jamie Varner and James Krause went to war in the opening pay-per-view (PPV) main card bout of UFC 173 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Talented grappler Krause was looking to right the ship after losing to Bobby Green at UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" in Nov. 2013, his first loss in nine bouts. After winning both "Fight of the Night" and "Submission of the Night" in his UFC 161 debut victory over Sam Stout, Krause had to avoid gaining a reputation of being inconsistent.
Varner came in off of two straight losses after dropping a heartbreaker to Abel Trujillo in a fight he was winning at UFC 169. Since his shocking upset of Edson Barboza at UFC 146, Varner had gone 1-3 in the Octagon, so the pressure was on the 11-year mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran.
The fight began with Varner aggressive, but Krause landed a couple big leg kicks and a right hand. He followed with a solid front kick and a combo, and Varner was sent crashing to the mat. Krause took Varner's back. The fight returned to the feet, but Varner appeared to have an injured left leg.
Still, he went for a double leg takedown, but Krause reversed to gain top position. Somehow Varner lashed out to damage Krause with some big shots. The fighters clinched as Krause lost his mouthpiece. Varner flopped to the mat as his left ankle was clearly badly damaged.
Varner gave a valiant effort full of heart, but the there was no way he could answer the bell for the second round.
His left ankle is most likely broken, yet he never quit trying to land a homerun shot. It's an especially disheartening loss for him, who has now lost three straight in the Octagon. Varner has the talent to do much better, but his UFC employment may be up in the air sooner than later.
Either way, he should be facing a lengthy rehabilitation period before he steps back into the cage.
Krause was gracious in victory, but he noted that part of his gameplan was to kick the lower leg so that wrestler Varner couldn't grab his kicks. It worked out for the best despite the anticlimactic ending. He's now won two out of his three UFC bouts, but it's unclear whether or not an injury win over Varner will propel him onto a much bigger bout.
Krause looked solid, so he should return against a bottom level Top 20-ranked fighter sometime soon after sustaining little damage last night.
Jamie Varner suffered his third consecutive defeat with a debilitating injury, but James Krause had the strategy to make it happen. What's next for each fighter after the disappointing finish at UFC 173?