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UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw - Jamie Varner vs. James Krause preview and the prognostication

Jamie Varner battles lightweight colleague James Krause in a bout that feels like a bout to get him back into the win column. What are the chances Krause is capable of playing the spoiler?

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Jamie Varner vs. Kames Krause Lightweight

So who's coming to grapple, and who's coming to fight?

Well, that depends.

So far Jamie Varner has shown himself to be a mainstay in the division. He's entertaining, so he'll be employed in the UFC for a very long time. But Varner has always had the look and feel of a fighter on the cusp of something more. Just when he's on the verge of breaking through, alas...someone comes and steals his thunder.

With a 21-9 record, the idea that he's simply a gatekeeper is misleading. His losses seem to betray the qualities that define his wins. A win over Edson Barboza begets a loss to Joe Lauzon. A win over Melvin Guillard begets a loss to Tibau, and Abel Trujillo. Are all these guys really so indistinguishable?

I don't know but that fight with Trujillo was insane!

Exactly. And I think that taps into Varner's problem.  Even in defeat, he never seems out of the fight. His last three losses were all winnable. Granted, he kind of blindly rolled the dice on his way off the cliff against Trujillo-

Intent on reenacting the scene from Deerhunter?

Yea. So I believe it's a mental thing with Varner. He wasn't always so beloved or exciting. For the longest time, he was known best for UFC 62, when he basically ran away from Hermes Franca and got booed for doing so. I don't think he was ever truly comfortable being the heel.

So who's James Krause? 20-5. A win over Sam Stout. Seems good, especially at +164.


Those are bad numbers given the probability of Krause winning.

The numbers are only defensible because Varner is such a wild card. Krause started his Zuffa career with a loss to Justin Lawrence on TUF. Lawrence is a kid who is no longer in the UFC (though I don't hold losses against Daniel Pineda and Max Holloway for a 24 year old too harshly). So on paper, this fight is Varner's for the taking.

Did you see Rich Franklin's TED talk?

Can you let me finish?

You don't expect me to read your preview in one sitting without getting distracted by my impulse to watch random videos, like if David Lynch took the directing gig for Return of the Jedi that George Lucas offered him do you?

Fair enough.

So I suspect this fight will be pretty one sided.

Krause is a good fighter with a penchant for the submission. 13 of his wins are via submission. The problem with Krause moving forward is that he has a real old school grappling game. As in, he's not a hasty scrambler, and isn't an efficient wrestler. However, it's always good for a grappler to have at least one asphyxiation ace up his sleeve, and James has that with his guillotine choke.

Lankier fighters tend to have better chokes given the ease with which they can slip their limbs through. If Varner takes the fight to the ground, his neck will be there for the taking. Not only that but at 6'2, Krause will have an easier time staying out of range of those bombs.

However, for all of his faults, Varner is a hell of a mixed martial artist.

I can't think of many more fighters whose record doesn't seem to reflect their in-cage ability. Varner has crisp boxing that is complimented by one of the most vicious attacks to the body you'll see. He nearly cut Lauzon in half with his combinations to the body. Kraus' large torso will be a big target, and he'd be wise to keep it on the feet where he'll have a significant advantage.

And then there's also this.

Yea, that was pretty weird. I think Green had softened Krause up, so much so that Krause might as well have been kicked in the nards a third time.

I still believe that Varner is a top 10 talent in the LW division. With his body attack and ability to keep the fight standing, it's his fight for the taking.

The biggest challenges for Varner will be avoiding the jab (Krause is committed to the jab which is good for a fighter with his length), and avoiding the guillotine. If Varner digs his right hand to the body like he did against Lauzon, Krause won't be long for this world.

Jamie Varner by TKO, round 2.