Sherdog Prospect Watch: Pascal Krauss

By Tim Leidecker Jul 24, 2010
German standout Pascal Krauss possesses the tools needed to become not only a world-class fighter but an ambassador for the sport in a country where mixed martial arts remains in its infancy and fans are starving for a hero.

Krauss was born in Breisach, Germany on April 19, 1987. His martial arts education started at the age of 14, when he picked up boxing. He stayed with the discipline for the next five years, winning a German junior boxing title and placing second in the international German championships. The lone loss in his 18-fight amateur career proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it steered him towards MMA.

“I lost interest in boxing after only taking second place,” Krauss says. “The winner was invited to the Olympic training facility where he was able to work with some of the best coaches in the country, while I felt that I had reached a glass ceiling I could not break. I could train for hours and hours, but I didn’t see much of an improvement anymore.”

Coming from a wrestling family -- his father Michael represented Germany in the Olympics -- Krauss broke out the singlet and joined the youth team on a first-division club, RKG Freiburg, trying his luck on the mats. Though his passion for ground fighting was further fueled when he bumped into judo black belt Gregor Herb in 2007, the incentive to try his luck in MMA came during a stay in the United States a year before.

“I switched on the television and saw Michael Bisping on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’” Krauss says. “People often confused us because of our similar looks, so I had sympathy for him right from the beginning. When he won the season, I was hooked and said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do, as well.’”

Four years later, he has drawn serious comparisons to “The Count.” Krauss, who once competed on the undercard at local shows in Baden-Württemberg, has developed into one of the top 15 welterweights in Europe and one of the main attractions at some of the biggest continental events. He credits his passion for MMA for his ascent.

“I just have so much fun fighting,” Krauss says. “I enjoy the physical competition that comes without great detours. I don’t have to score goals, shoot baskets or knock over bowling pins. I’m attracted by the direct comparison with my opponent. Who is stronger? The quickest way to find that out is to put my fist against his chin. It’s just a great feeling you get when you win a fight and know, ‘I just beat this guy.’ I need the exercise and the fighting. Otherwise, I’m unhappy.”

He has beaten a successful path in Europe. A stop in Zurich for Shooto Switzerland resulted in a submission victory against Brazilian jiu-jitsu European Championships silver medalist Gokmen Dalli, and an appearance in Ljubljana, Slovenia, for a World Freefight Challenge show ended in a knockout of Serbian national wrestling champion and judo black belt Srdjan Sekulic.

Most recently, he touched down in Birmingham, England, for the return of Cage Warriors Fighting Championships. In his first appearance on the British Isles, he headlined the 37th show for the UK’s oldest promotion. On the line was the Cage Warriors welterweight championship -- the title Dan Hardy vacated when he signed with the UFC in May 2008. His opponent was Scotsman John Quinn, who, like Krauss, sported a perfect 8-0 record. Krauss put his stamp on the fight and bulldozed his opponent with a fighting style that has earned him the nickname “Panzer,” which translates to “tank” in English.

“Winning the Cage Warriors strap has been the highlight of my career so far,” Krauss says. “I received a lot of good press in the UK, which did me good and proved that the hype around me is justified after all. When I started out, I could box and wrestle a bit, but in the last two years, I really made a big step forward due to my training camps abroad.”

To hone his skills, Krauss ha traveled to Brazil to train with elite Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Roberto “Gordo” Correa, who awarded the German his blue belt after eight weeks of hard training with Antonio Braga Neto, Rafael dos Anjos, Delson Heleno, Vitor Belfort and others. He has also trained in the United States with Strikeforce veteran Luke Stewart, Jake Shields and Nate and Nick Diaz. In addition, he has spent time at Renzo Gracie’s academy in New York with George St. Pierre’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach, John Danaher. Krauss cites St. Pierre as one of his idols because of his versatility, discipline and work ethic.

A student of sports science, Krauss pauses to reflect on cultural and social developments in his home country.

“I think that, due to the conditions in Germany, many people have lost their fighting spirit,” he says. “You don’t really have to struggle hard to make a living here. Convenience and luxury are society diseases. That is why fighters from countries where there is still more of a struggle for survival have been more successful in MMA than Germany so far.”

His assessment seems like food for thought for a nation with a longstanding martial arts tradition. Germany has produced outstanding fighters like heavyweight world champion boxer Max Schmeling and Olympic judoka Udo Quellmalz, along with Olympic gold medalist and current Greco-Roman wrestling national team coach Maik Bullmann.

For a sport to grain traction in Germany, however, the public needs someone it can throw its support behind. That proved true in boxing, with Henry Maske, in Formula One racing, with Michael Schumacher, and in cycling, with Jan Ullrich.

“I think it is a combination of many factors,” Krauss says. “First of all, you need to be good at what you are doing, technically, conditionally, and you have to have the fighting spirit, as well. On top of that, you have to have certain marketability, a positive presence in the media. Eloquence, the looks and a recall value, of course, don’t hurt, either.”

Does he bring such traits to the table?

“I don’t know,” Krauss says. “What I do know is that many people I am associated with embody the so-called German virtues of diligence, honesty and reliability pretty well, and I would like to include myself in that group. I wouldn’t mind becoming the German Michael Bisping, however. He won “Coolest Man in the UK.” That’s a nice compliment.

“I would give up almost everything to become an elite professional,” he adds. “I’m not tied regionally, contractually or in a relationship. My education is very important for me, however. Relying on fighting 100 percent seems too much of a risk for me at this time. That’s why getting a scholarship to go to a university in the U.S. would be my dream.

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