Derrick Krantz’s call-up to the UFC was on such short notice that it was news to him that a card was even happening this Saturday.
By the time the 31-year-old Texan steps into the cage at Blue Cross Arena against top-15 ranked welterweight Vicente Luque on the UFC Rochester main card it will have been less than a week since he put pen to paper for the bout. Were it not for Neil Magny being forced to withdraw from his match with Luque due to a USADA violation, Krantz would be in Lousiana, not New York.
A longtime standout in the Legacy Fighting Alliance (Krantz has been with the promotion back when it was known as Legacy Fighting Championship), Krantz was actually preparing a couple of fighters from his gym for their upcoming fights and had no idea that the UFC was running a show that he would eventually become part of.
“I honestly didn’t even know there were fights going on this weekend,” Krantz told MMA Fighting. “I wasn’t paying attention to any of that. I had a couple of fighters underneath me that were fighting at a local tournament in Shreveport and I was actually helping getting them ready and trying to focus on cornering them and I was offered a great opportunity.
“My management asked me Monday if I could make 170 and I told them I could. Tuesday, they said they’d take the fight after I kind of hounded them for it.”
Not only is Krantz (24-10) taking the fight on extraordinarily short notice, this will also be his second fight in less than two months. He is coming off of a sensational knockout of Justin Patterson at LFA 63 and was supposed to be parlaying that into an appearance on the next season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Instead, he’s skipping a few steps and taking his UFC destiny into his own hands.
The timing worked out well for Krantz, who admits that he’s not normally the type to stay in tip-top shape between fights. He says the win over Patterson motivated him, because usually he would balloon up to around 215 pounds between fights. Even then, he was quick to point out that he remains “fit, but not fat.”
Krantz estimates he was around 190 pounds at the start of this week and immediately tightened up his diet as soon as the call came to replace Magny. He wasn’t going to pass on this opportunity, not after nearly 11 years as a pro fighting to get to the next level. In his opinion, Krantz believes that it was difficult for him to get on the UFC’s radar because his experience made it difficult to find a place for him on the roster.
“Back when I first started fighting I was out of a small town,” Krantz said. “I was making big noise in my area, just not a big enough noise I would say to get their attention. And then once UFC started getting more mainstream and signing more folks, they started looking for younger fighters, fighters with not as much experience because it’s hard to match up somebody on a debut that’s got over 30 fights.”
This week, Krantz is doing the UFC matchmakers a favor by helping to keep Luque on the card. They might just get a Fight of the Night pairing out of it too, if Krantz and Luque’s respective histories are any indicator. The two have a combined 35 wins by knockout or submission, including all of Luque’s UFC victories.
“I think it’s a good matchup for me, especially on a short-notice call because I know what to expect,” Krantz said. “I’m practically fighting myself. I just need to go out there and do what I need to do, go out there and hit him hard, hit him first, put pressure on him, make him not want to be there. Once he feels the power and how strong I am in the clinch he’s definitely gonna be surprised.”
According to Krantz, he actually had a date and opponent lined up for the Contender Series. However, when asked if he considered sticking with that route to the UFC versus taking on a dangerous opponent like Luque with little time to prepare, Krantz didn’t think twice.
“It’s just one of those things where it’s better to take this fight, it just seemed better,” Krantz said. “I didn’t have a guarantee to make the UFC even if I just smoked a dude on the Contender Series. So this right here has got me in.
“I’m in. I’m here to stay. Now I’m here to wreck the welterweight division.”