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To recap: On March 29, the former Legacy Fighting Alliance welterweight champion fought in the main event of LFA 63 in Belton, Texas, a card whose stakes had been ratcheted up several notches by the presence of Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, scouting talent for his eponymous Contender Series. Ahead of that fight, the headliner was so serene that this interviewer had to ask a third party whether Krantz was even aware that White would be in attendance.
Under the brightest lights of his decade-plus career, “D-Rock” came up big, blowing away Justin Patterson in an early candidate for “Knockout of the Year.”
Official Results: Krantz def. Patterson via KO at 2:27 into Round 1. pic.twitter.com/h7dDRj1jhH— AXS TV Fights (@AXSTVFights) March 30, 2019
In the wake of that knockout, the UFC honcho extended Krantz an invitation to appear on the Contender Series this summer, even as he acknowledged that the 31-year-old with his 24-10 record was a case of casting against type.
Dana White to Derrick Krantz: "I'll be honest with you. You're 31 years old, you're 24-10. It makes no fucking sense to bring you on the Contender Series. But I love your attitude. Welcome to the Tuesday Night Contender Series. You fight this summer." #LFA63 pic.twitter.com/IaIYzRJCzn— Sherdog by Mandatory (@sherdogdotcom) March 30, 2019
That news alone would have made for a memorable spring and summer for the East Texan, as he prepared to compete for a roster spot with the world’s premier MMA promotion. However, there was another twist just around the corner. On May 14, just four days out from UFC Fight Night 152, Neil Magny was forced to pull out of his match with fellow welterweight contender Vicente Luque. On ultra-short notice, the call came, and Krantz’s dream season kicked into overdrive as he agreed to step in. Asked if there was any hesitation before accepting -- or whether he jumped out of his seat in jubilation -- Krantz claims his only pause was one familiar to a 34-fight veteran who has stepped up more than a few times on short notice.
“[The call] actually came while I was at the gym,” Krantz told Sherdog.com. “I’d just finished training and was about to go and get something to eat. When they called, I just went and checked my weight, since I’d only have a couple of days to get back down [to 170]. My weight was fine, so I said yes.”
Krantz made his contracted weight without issue on Friday, leaving only one obstacle in front of him: top-15 contender Luque, who has won four straight, eight of his last nine and is a tall order for anyone at 170 pounds, let alone a fighter making his promotional debut. Krantz admitted to having to familiarize himself with the Brazilian’s game in the days since he signed to fight him, but sees a familiar style.
“He’s not too different from me,” Krantz said. “He hits hard, he comes forward [and] he’s got submissions. One difference is experience. I’ve got almost twice as many fights.”
Saturday night in Rochester, a whirlwind couple of months will reach their conclusion, and win or lose, Krantz -- freshly-inked four fight UFC contract in hand -- is likely on to bigger and better things. While Krantz is confident of victory this weekend, he is willing to reflect on the road that brought him to this juncture. Was there any point along the way that he thought he might never make it to the big show?
“Sure,” Krantz replied. “Everyone’s got those demons in the back of their head, telling you things, saying it’ll never happen. But I kept the faith, kept on working, God is good, and here we are.”