When Derrick Krantz claims he feels no particular pressure to put on a great performance going into his fight with Justin Patterson at LFA 63 this Friday, it is difficult not to believe him.
“It’s just another fight,” Krantz said. “I’m going in there with a guy who’s trying to knock my head off, and I’ve got to finish him.”
There is a certain bravado that most fighters display in speaking to fans and media. Each upcoming fight is just another fight. No opponent is special -- they’re “tough,” of course, maybe even “dangerous,” but just another opponent. There are never any nerves. Sometimes it’s an obvious facade, while other times it’s convincing. In the case of Krantz, the former Legacy Fighting Alliance welterweight champ, it’s so convincing that after speaking to him, I pulled aside his coach, Larry Maxon of 515 Fight Team, and asked: Was Derrick putting me on, or does he not know that Dana White will be there Friday, scouting for the Contender Series?
“We just heard about that recently,” Maxon said. Accompanied by a shrug, his tone was illuminating, seeming to say that yes, Krantz is aware of the rare opportunity Friday’s showcase fight represents, and yes, it really is just another night at the office for him.
That is not to say that Krantz isn’t eager to move on to greater challenges and brighter lights. The 31-year-old “D-Rock” is indisputably one of LFA’s biggest stars; this will be his fourth main event in a row for the promotion, and seventh in his last 10 appearances. He is the kind of exciting fighter and reliable draw the promotion taps to headline trips outside its usual stomping grounds in Texas and Louisiana, or to out-of-the-way destinations like Belton, Texas this Friday. If Krantz hasn’t already reached the limits of the exposure he can achieve under the banner of one of North America’s premier regional promotions, he’s getting close.
He is also a fighter on the rise competitively. It’s difficult to dispute that the version of Krantz that steps into a cage in 2019 is a better fighter than his solid-but-unspectacular 21-10 record would suggest. He is 4-1 in the last three years, and might well be 5-0 in that time -- and still in possession of the LFA welterweight title -- if not for a controversial, foul-filled split decision loss to James Nakashima at LFA 23 in September 2017.
Krantz is aware that he might be a fish outgrowing his pond. “Someone asked me who I wanted after this fight. I told them ‘I don’t know! Who the hell is there?’” he said with a laugh. “There ain’t anybody [on roster] right now with the credentials to make it worthwhile.”
Perhaps because of this, Krantz has been working with LFA through a series of one-fight contracts, and is open to whatever comes his way after Friday’s fight. “If the money’s right, and I can help a promoter and that promoter can help me, we’ll make it happen.” That being the case, Friday would seem to be a perfect time for a regional MMA star on the rise to shine in front of the president of the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion, but it all hinges on what happens in the cage. Krantz claims to be familiar with what Patterson brings to the table.
“Actually, we’ve done a little training together,” Krantz said. “I mean, not a whole lot, but we wrestled and grappled in Dallas. We’re friends on Facebook and we talk from time to time. It’s just part of the fight game. He’s a good fighter. He’s a strong guy. He’s a bit more of a standup fighter than a ground guy. He’s not a wrestler or a jiu-jitsu black belt, but he hits hard and he comes with volume. He’s a dangerous opponent.”
Whichever direction Krantz’s career takes from here, it starts Friday night in Belton, Texas. Whether it’s just another fight or the opportunity of a lifetime -- or perhaps the two aren’t mutually exclusive -- Krantz sounds confident of one thing.
“It’ll be a finish,” he said. “Within the first two rounds.”