When former WEC and Bellator lightweight James Krause steps into the cage at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 1 on December 16, he will face off with fellow former-Zuffa employee Chad "the Grinder" Reiner. If all goes according to plan for Krause, after a short night's work the bout will mark the last time "former" is attached to his Zuffa affiliation, as the lightweight recently participated in auditions for the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Although Krause's big-stage experience came in the lightweight division, the bout with Reiner next Friday will take place at welterweight. If Krause has any reservations fighting at the higher class, he wasn't showing them as he spoke with Bloody Elbow radio.
"I think it's going to boil down to I've got fifteen minutes to put one on his button," Krause said. "I know the dude's been knocked out a bunch of times and I've heard from a lot of different people he doesn't have the best chin."
Although Krause aims to keep the fight upright for its duration, he expects Reiner to have other plans.
"I already know what he's going to try to do," he said. "He's going to come out and try to take me down, that's his game plan.
"I'd love for him to come out and strike. If he wants to do that, that would be fantastic, but I can assure you that won't last long if that's the case."
Krause, who recently spent a day training at the Throwdown training center while in Las Vegas for the TUF tryouts, says he is in shape to go the full duration, but doesn't plan on having to show it.
"I don't see it going past round one. I'm in amazing shape, right now, and I just don't think this guy is on my level. I'm going to call either a guillotine round one or a TKO."
Although the bout at RFA 1 is the next opportunity in Krause's immediate future, it may not be the biggest one. Krause participated in Monday's open try out for TUF, his third attempt at getting onto the show, and hopes third time can prove to be the charm.
A behind-the-scenes look at the TUF auditions is after the jump.
While it would be easy to assume that auditioning to get onto a television show would be a thrilling experience, the majority of the long day of try-outs consists of down time.
"There's a ton of a waiting," Krause said of the day. "I was there from 8 AM until after 9 PM. It was probably almost 10 by the time I got out of there.
"Fortunately, this time I had some guys there that I knew from when we'd tried out for the show in the past. Muhsin Corbbrey, John Maguire -- a UFC welterweight -- was there with his brother and a couple other UK guys. It was cool having those guys rooting each other on so it's not always every man for himself."
When not passing the time with fellow fighters, applicants must make it through a three-part process on try-out day, starting with a brief grappling session.
"You roll for a round-and-a-half, he said. "I rolled with one of Joe Lauzon's guys and did pretty well. I tapped him twice."
With his grappling prowess proved, Krause moved on to yet more waiting, and ultimately the striking section of skill assessments. As with the grappling, fighters are given a slim 90-second window to showcase their talents, working with pads as opposed to live sparring.
It's in these two rounds of live action that it is easiest to identify the first time applicants, according to Krause.
"The first time guys are warming up and they've got another 45 minutes to an hour to go before they go in there and they're warming up like it's a fight," he said. "You've only got a minute-and-a-half. Us three were just sitting around having fun and talking. It's not a bad thing if you haven't been there, but like anything you get comfortable.
"You see some guys who go out there and go 1,000-percent intensity for a minute-and-a-half and you really don't show any skill set. You just showed that you can be strong for a minute-and-a-half and they see that every day -- they don't care about that."
If a fighter shows enough in the grappling and striking rounds, as Krause did, they move on to the final try-out day phase -- interviews with producers. At the end of the day, any fighters who reached the final round are left to reflect on their efforts and wait, with the hope that in a few weeks their phone will ring asking them to come out for final auditions. It was at those final auditions that Krause tasted disappointment his last time out.
"They fly you back," he said. "I did my medicals. They paid for all my medicals, my flight, my hotel and I was one of probably 60 guys that made it that far.  guys from that group make the show, or at the least the fights to get in, and I was part of that other 30-or-so."
Although the ever-so-close finish was an improvement on his first attempt, the building frustration of near misses may mean this is Krause's last attempt at taking the TUF road into the UFC.
"I'm definitely getting tired of going and trying out, but it's such a hard thing -- especially when I get so close, making it all the way out there to the second interview," he said.
"If I was getting cut the first time maybe I'd be like 'alright, I need to chill out and improve my record a bit,' but I'm at the point where either I'm going to be there really soon or I'm not going to be there ever, so I try to just keep pushing and keep working at it."
Many fighters on the show mention losing jobs to take the time off to attend, though Krause doesn't seem to be facing such concerns if picked, as it was his boss who convinced him to have another crack with the latest try outs.
"I said I wasn't going to go to this one," Krause said, "but I work for a small car dealership and my boss made me go and paid for my trip. He was a D1 football star and it didn't end up working out, and so I think he lives his glory days through me now. He said I shouldn't pass up a chance like this and all that mumbo jumbo."
Despite the change of network, Krause saw no differences on the UFC's end at tryouts, though the crop of fighters was of a higher caliber than normal. In addition to fellow RFA fighter Dakota Cochrane and TUF-alum Jamie Yager, Krause noted many talented fighters in attendance.
"In the earlier seasons I tried out for, you'd see guys just trying to be outlandishly stupid with their outfit," he said. "There really wasn't a lot of crazy guys there. There was a lot of legit talent, and if the UFC wanted to put together an All-Star season they could do it this season."
For the 16 or 32 lucky fighters selected to participate on the show, the most notable difference will be the live elimination bouts, and the resulting extended filming time for participants. While in the past seasons were filmed over a period of roughly six weeks, then broken into a three month television run in production, with live fights the participants will likely see a greater time spent at the TUF compound.
"They're making this season 12 to 13 weeks long," Krause noted. "That's a long time. Don't get me wrong, I'm down to do it, but I can't imagine a father being away from their kids for three months. That would suck."
Looking at the silver lining, however, Krause pointed out that if he makes the show he won't have to play the "sorry, I can't say" game when questioned how it went prior to airing, and that's fine by him.
"I'm a horrible liar."
Krause's weekend in Vegas wasn't all training and try-outs, however, he also managed to pick up tickets to Saturday nights' The Ultimate Fighter 14 finale event, at the cozy Pearl at the Palms.
"The Palms is a really cool place to have a show," Krause said of the arena which hosted his WEC 41 bout. "It reminds me of a place we have back where I'm from where it feels like everyone is just piled on top of you.
"At times you can hear everybody and other times you can't even hear yourself think. It's crazy in there."
Although Krause was excited to see the season's coaches, Michael Bisping and Jason Miller, square off, as well as the main card bout between Yves Edwards and Tony Ferguson, he felt the card lacked the undercard strength of other UFC events, without the corresponding discount.
"I wish they had put a little more depth in the card, especially for the ticket prices they were trying to get out of it. There were only a couple of fights I was really, really interested in, and that's usually not typical."