New Blood : March 2013

Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.

James Krause

Record: 19-4
Key Victories: Toby Imada, Joe Jordan
Weight Class: 155 lbs.
Age: 26
Country: United States
Nickname: The James Krause

Former WEC welterweight “The” James Krause is on a roll, having won seven fights in a row and kicking off 2013 by exacting revenge on former Bellator staple Toby Imada.

“I wanted to show everybody what I’m all about, and I think I did that over the last year,” says Krause. “I think I’ve done a good job of showing the evolution of my game. I feel that I’ve improved so much over this past year, and I’m a different guy now. I’ve come full circle and become a complete fighter.”

In particular, Krause feels one aspect of his game has grown considerably in the last year, thanks to a new teammate at K2L Grindhouse.

“My wrestling has grown leaps and bounds from where it was, even from six months ago,” Krause says. “UFC fighter Tim Elliott is part of the team now, and I think I’ve picked up those little movements and that gritty wrestling between-fighting that Tim’s so good at.”
Incorporating the influence of Elliott, Krause is out to prove that—despite 23 bouts to his credit—he’s a new fighter who has an injection of new blood reinvigorating his career. He intends to ride the wave that is taking him to the heights he couldn’t quite reach in his first attempt at the big leagues.

Krause is reaching for the pinnacle this time around. Although he’s been a staple of Resurrection Fighting Alliance, he’s gunning for the Octagon.

“In a perfect world, I’d be in the UFC after my last fight,” he says. “They called me to fight Yves Edwards, but they ended up giving Jeremy Stevens the fight instead of me, so I know I’m on their radar.”

Carla Esparza

Record: 9-2
Key Victories: Bec Hyatt, Lynn Alvarez, Felice Herrig
Weight Class: 115 lbs.
Age: 25
Country: United States
Nickname: Cookie Monster

She’s just one fight into 2013, but that one fight has already topped a banner 2012 for Carla Esparza.

“I think 2012 couldn’t have gone better,” Esparza says. “I really displayed my wrestling in fights, which is something I was scared to do in previous years. I think it’s something I’ve always had, but I was not as confident in my jiu-jitsu, so I didn’t want to take people down. Now that my ground-and-pound is coming along, I feel comfortable standing or on the ground. It’s great to have wrestling and decide where the fight goes.”
Wrestling was the key in her Invicta FC Strawweight Title fight with fiery Bec Hyatt, who threw everything she had at Esparza for five full rounds, rocking her on occasion, but was never quite being able to seal the deal. Her inability to finish her had more to do with Esparza’s wrestling than it did with Hyatt’s lack of desire. Any time Hyatt threatened, Esparza planted her on her back, grounding-and-pounding her way to a dominant unanimous-decision victory and staking her claim as the first Invicta Strawweight Champion.

The belt has long been a goal of Esparza, but she’s not done. Now, she has her sights set on world domination.

“The goal is always to have a belt and to be the best in the world,” says Esparza. “I’ve been working toward that, and whether it takes two, three, or 10 fights, that’s what I want.”

Will Brooks

Record: 9-0
Key Victories: Ricardo Tirloni, Satoru Kitaoka, Drew Dober
Weight Class: 155 lbs.
Age: 26
Country: United States
Nickname: Ill Will

With a win over Satoru Kitaoka on New Year’s Eve at Dream 18 and a victory over Ricardo Tirloni in the latest Bellator Lightweight Tournament, things are looking up for “Ill” Will Brooks.

“I’ve been focusing on being a better person, and it spilled over into my career,” says Brooks. “It’s just a positive energy that I’m trying to put out into the environment and the people around me. It really boosted my career and has given me great opportunities like competing in Japan and coming back home and being able to sign with Bellator.”
Already a strong wrestler, Brooks’ striking has really been improving, making him even more dangerous.

“I’m finding my comfort zone and place in the cage,” he says. “And once that starts happening, I think that’s when you really start to have success in whatever you do.”
Brooks’ peaking comes at an important time in his career, as he is now featured in the Bellator Lightweight Tournament, which is being watched by a huge audience on Spike TV. Although Brooks had to go the distance for the first time in his career to secure the win over Tirloni, that won’t slow him down. He’s finally hitting his stride and doesn’t intend on looking back.

“I’m looking to keep putting in people’s mind that I am a dominant force in the lightweight division and will be here for a very long time,” he says. “In the beginning, I was trying to force it, and I started putting a lot of pressure on myself and got into a really negative place. Recently, I settled back and decided to take it one fight at a time, and whatever is put in front of me, I’ll deal with it as it comes.”

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