Years of Sacrifice Set to Pay Off for ProElite Headliner Andreas Kraniotakes
For German MMA heavyweight Andreas “Big Daddy” Kraniotakes, a phone call last week offered an opportunity to make worthwhile the sacrifices he’s gone through for the last 6 years as a professional fighter in a sometimes unfriendly market.
“To headline on a U.S. card is a big thing for someone like me,” Kraniotakes said from San Diego where he is making his training camp with Victory MMA. “I came a long way. MMA in Europe, and in Germany especially, is not what it is over here. People still think we are barbaric and don’t have rules.”
A 12-4 veteran of the European fight scene, Kraniotakes is set to take on former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia on November 5th in the main event in the second event of the revived ProElite in Moline, Ill. Kraniotakes was already in the U.S. training for an upcoming fight when Sylvia’s planned opponent, Pedro Rizzo, had to withdraw with an injury.
Kraniotakes, who had his first professional fight in 2005, has had a busy year, fighting five times already in 2011 and taking home wins in four of those fights. Now the opportunity has arisen to take on the biggest name of his career.
“Well it’s a big, big opportunity,” Kraniotakes agreed. “You know it’s a name and I think I can beat him and if I can do so it would be even bigger.”
Kraniotakes has never won a fight by anything but a (t)ko or a submission and sees himself as a well-rounded threat to the “Maine-iac”.
“I consider myself an MMA fighter, I think I can hang in there wherever it goes,” Kraniotakes said. “I feel pretty comfortable in the stand up department. I can wrestle a little bit and I think for a big guy I have a pretty decent ground game, I don’t care where the fight will take place, if you know me then you know I’m not going to try to be staying on the outside ‘jab, jab, jab’ three rounds. Every fight I go in, I try to finish. I’ll try to make him fight my fight, I’m not trying to fight his fight, I think that’s the key.”
In Germany, Kraniotakes has devoted himself full-time to training and his career. Kraniotakes, who has a degree in Educational Science, has been living in his gym.
“I have to make a lot of sacrifices to come where I’m at now,” Kraniotakes explained. “I moved into the gym, I gave up all the stuff that a guy my age and with my education usually has, I gave up my car and the apartment I was living in and moved into the gym and dedicated my life to training.”
Now that his dedication is starting to pay off, Kraniotakes hopes to build his career in the U.S.
“Win or lose this fight I would love to fight in the U.S. a little more,” Kraniotakes said. “I have a lot of U.S. fans that have been asking me on Twitter and Facebook for a long time when my US debut is going to be.”
As a German fighter where MMA is much farther behind in terms of popular acceptance, Kraniotakes sees the value of plying his trade stateside.
“I also want to fight in Europe but I appreciate the U.S. so much for everything it has done for the sport and for everything MMA is over here,” Kraniotakes said.
Along with UFC veterans Dennis Siver, Peter Sobotta and Pascal Krauss, Kraniotakes is emerging as one of Germany’s most popular fighters. His professional start in the sport, however, was less than glamorous. Kraniotakes fought in a no-holds barred tournament in Germany in 2005 which he described as “kind of freaky.”
On Kraniotakes’ official record his first opponent that night is listed as “Attila Attila” but that is because he was only able to obtain the fighter’s first name and said that after the fight, Atilla disappeared, as did the man who ran the tournament.
“Lots of crazy stuff happening in Germany,” he joked.
As the highest profile fight of the 29-year old’s career draws near, Kraniotakes can think back on his sacrifices over the years and begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“I believe that everything you put out there in the world comes back eventually.”
You can follow Andreas at his website http://www.kraniotakesmma.com or on Twitter @BDkraniotakes