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‘I am done with this sport’ - James Krause announces retirement from MMA competition

“I’m at peace with it. I have no desire to fight again.”

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At 36 years of age, James Krause is calling it a career. A professional fighter since 2007, he broke the news during his Monday appearance on The MMA Hour.

“This last week for me, I had a herniated disk — I have a herniated disk in my neck — and it was giving me real problems going into that [UFC 277] fight week,” he explained. “And I was very close to just officially saying it. It’s hard for me to [say].

“This is the problem with most fighters is, it’s hard to let that go. It’s really hard to let that go. But I could tell you with almost 100 percent confidence that you guys will probably never see me fight again. And I’m good with that. I feel OK with that.”

As a long-time high-level competitor, Krause has a deeper understanding of the fighter mindset. But he also sees an issue with it.

“I’ve said this so many times, and this is the No. 1 problem with the sport and the fighters — this has to come to an end at some point. It has to. And professional athletics as a whole has to come to an end. Football players, they don’t play until they’re 50.

“This has to come to an end, and unfortunately, we don’t get to pick it. Most of the time our body gets to pick it. I am fortunate enough to be able to call my shot now, and I can say it now — shit man, you’re never going to see me fight again.

“I am done with this sport. I’m at peace with it. I have no desire to fight again. I really don’t. My desires and my fulfillment have now shifted toward coaching. Moments like Brandon Moreno and the rest of my team, I get fulfillment out of those. So you can call this my official retirement or whatever, but I do not plan on ever fighting in the UFC ever again.”

We’ve heard many fighters say “winning is like a drug,” something that Krause also knows fully well.

“Whenever you win, you get that dopamine drip. But whenever you lose, it’s the worst feeling in the world,” he explained. “And I think because of these fighters that come from broken families, low-income homes, they don’t have the proper upbringing so they self-identify with the results of their last fight. So if they lost, they feel like a loser; if they win, they feel like a winner.

“Sometimes it’s a day, sometimes it’s a week, sometimes it’s months, but that dopamine drip that you get from winning fades and you just want to feel like a winner again.

“Then when you go to fight again and you lose, you feel like a complete loser — and when you feel like a loser, all you want to do is feel like a winner again. So you get stuck in this vicious cycle, and these guys don’t know how to get out of it.

“And we see it every weekend with somebody that’s still fighting that, it’s like, ‘Why is this person still doing this?’ And it’s because of that — they’re stuck in that vicious cycle of validation for themselves, and it’s just such a nasty place to be.”

Krause also runs Glory MMA & Fitness in Missouri, with notable students like Jeff Molina, Julian Marquez, and most recently, former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. According to him, he’s been able to make a comfortable living for himself and no longer needs the payday from fighting.

“I wanted three things out of this whenever I called it quits. I said I wanted to be financially free. I’ve done that,” he said.

“ To be honest with you, I would probably lose money if I fought. I wanted to go out on my own terms. I didn’t want somebody to be like, ‘Hey James, you lost three in a row.’ And I wanted to retire in the UFC. Those were my three goals, and I wanted to go out on a win — a win in the UFC. Right now, all of those three things are accomplished.

“If I would fight again, it would put it at risk for no reason. I don’t need the money. I don’t need the validation.”

Krause ended his pro career with a record of 28-8. He last saw action at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in October 2020 against Cláudio Silva, whom he defeated via unanimous decision.