Something is in the air in Western Missouri, and it’s not the smell of farmland. It’s also not the bright lights of Downtown Kansas City. This is something different. It is the air of success coming from UFC veteran James Krause’s gym, Glory MMA & Fitness in Lee’s Summit.
Krause had a long and successful career in the UFC, going 9-4 between June 2013 and Oct. 2020. With multiple performance bonuses, and probably the gutsiest move ever – taking a fight with Trevin Giles on 24-hour notice – the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has set examples that most coaches would never be able to provide. Between his own performances, and his amazing coaching, his team has quietly grown into what could be one of the premier MMA teams in the game.
The air of success that surrounds the Glory MMA team has drawn the attention of fighters and promotions alike. Even longtime veterans like Nebraska’s Darrick Minner have made a home at Glory. Minner has primarily trained at his home gym – Premier Combat Center in Omaha – where he is also a coach, even to his own younger brothers. But, he has also cross-trained elsewhere, including trips to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. But, once he landed at Glory, he knew it was the right fit.
“It’s great, man,” Minner told Combat Press. “We keep getting guys signed. We just got two guys signed last week. It’s been amazing. The culture and the vibe that James has going on at Glory is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in all the teams I’ve ever worked with.”
When not in a fight camp, Minner travels down to Glory to train with Krause every Monday and Tuesday. However, when he is in a camp, he is down there Monday through Friday. It’s a tough pull for a father of two, but the proverbial juice is worth the squeeze.
Minner is currently sitting at 26-12, after making his pro debut in Oct. 2012. He also has a whopping 22 submission wins under his belt, and has only been to decision four times in 38 outings. However, it was not until Feb. 2020 when he was finally signed to the UFC, taking a short-notice fight against another Nebraskan in the form of Grant Dawson. It just so happened that Dawson was training out of Glory MMA.
Minner lost the fight to Dawson, but he now had a contract he fought long and hard to land, and it also was his introduction to Glory. It was after that, he sought out Krause’s wisdom. He would go on to win his next two UFC fights against T.J. Laramie and Charles Rosa, before dropping a fight with veteran Darren Elkins last July. He feels it was a fight he could have won.
“It was a number of things,” Minner explained. “I hesitated a little too much on the chokes. I pulled too many chokes. I was tired as shit, and I couldn’t get his ass off me. If I had stuck to the game plan, it would have been an easy fight. I just wasn’t feeling right. All in all, when I was beating him up, and the ref kept saying he was going to stop the fight, so I got overzealous and let my emotions factor in too much.”
Minner lost that one by TKO, but he is not one to slow down. He got immediately back to training, preparing for whatever the UFC was ready to throw at him next. And, much like Krause, Minner is no stranger to short-notice offers, having often taking challenges with little notice. What he didn’t realize was that he was actually in for a long camp.
In early September, the UFC brass offered Minner a fight with well-known grappling standout Ryan Hall. the third-degree BJJ black belt hadn’t fought in over two years, and finally was back in the cage last July against undefeated rising star Ilia Topuria. Before the first-round came to a close, Topuria blasted Hall, knocking him out cold. When Minner was presented an opportunity to fight hall in December on the early prelims of the super-stacked UFC 269 card, he jumped all over it. And, the icing on the cake was that it came with a new contract.
“I like the match-up,” Minner said. “It’s just a weird match-up. He’s just awkward and weird. He’s good at what he’s good at, but I liked it right away.
“[Hall] talked about how nobody wanted to fight him, but I don’t give a fuck what anyone says. There are people who will fight you. It’s weird because he took all that time off, and now he’s rushing back after he got knocked out. Why is he rushing back after he just got knocked out four or five months ago? He took all that time off – he did this, he dis that – and now all of a sudden, he wants to be active again? I don’t know if he just likes the match-up or what. He got flatlined, and it wasn’t even that hard of a punch.”
For a 145-pound fighter, Halls seems rather ling and lanky, which can be dangerous, considering his BJJ pedigree. However, Minner, like Topuria, is a few inches shorter than Hall, so the size differential is not of any concern.
“As far as the grappling aspect, I can fucking grapple,” said Minner. “He’s got leg locks, bro. Of course, he can grapple and do all of the other shit, but he’s not looking to do any of the other shit. He’s looking to get your legs, and display the system he’s created.
“And, I don’t feel [the size difference] in there at all. That just means he has to go down lower to take me down. As far as size, I’m much bigger than him. You saw that with the Topuria. Topuria was a lot bigger and thicker than him. [Hall] probably walks around at 155.”
That being said, Hall does have a unique grappling system that he employs, through the use of the 50/50 guard, which he actually named his gym after. He uses that particular guard position to secure heel hooks, which he has hit in two of his 10 pro fights, and twice on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. However, with Krause as his head coach – and being the coach that he is – Minner has had plenty of preparation for what is considered the strange style that Hall brings to the table.
“I [train with] a black belt and a brown belt, who are all inverted leg lock guys,” Minner said. “So, I’ve been rolling with those guy two times per week – just those guys. It’s been a lot different, man. I have to grapple a different style, so it’s weird for me.
“It’s just going to be like a new me. I can’t go out there and fight him like I normally fight. I can’t go out there and rush in. It’s going to bring out a new me. I know, consciously, that I have to stick to the game plan that James lays out for me. As long as I’m aware of that, I can’t get into rushing shit. I need to let him get panicky. I feel like, in the Topuria fight, he realized, ‘oh shit, this dude’s not playing into my game plan.’ Then, he got into desperation mode a little bit. He was hesitant. He was breathing a little harder than he usually does.”
In four fights in the UFC, Minner is 2-2 and has already faced a couple somewhat known names in Rosa and Dawson. And, he fought a big name in his last outing against Elkins. Hall brings another name that has a bit of a cult following in the BJJ world, but, at the end of the day, this is MMA, and everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Minner is looking to silence the cult followers tonight, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The UFC 269 early prelims air live on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET.