Getting Crackin’ with the UFC’s New “Kraken” – Juan Adams

Juan “The Kraken” Adams (4-0) is one of the newest additions to the UFC’s heavyweight division. After winning his fourth-straight professional fight, this time on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Adams was signed to the UFC. MMA Today got the chance to talk with Adams about the Contender Series, Greg Hardy, the future of the heavyweight division, his situation with the ladies, and much more.

A Job Offer and a House Party

Have you ever been at work, only to receive a new, different job offer? Juan Adams has. “I was actually at an LFA event; the last event in Houston that they had, and I was kind of just messing around. There were a couple heavyweights fighting, and I thought they might be my next opponent because they’ve been having issues finding opponents for me,” he says. 

Then, he would get the offer he’d been waiting for. “[UFC matchmaker] Mick Maynard was there, and he came up to me, and he goes, “hey, I’m thinking about putting you on the Contender Series. I’m gonna see what I can do. Why don’t you come to my housewarming party tomorrow?'”

Clearly, Adams made an impression at the party. A few weeks later, a contract was signed. Juan Adams would be fighting on the Contender Series, one step closer to his dream of fighting in the UFC.


Calm Before the Storm

Leading up to his Contender Series matchup with Shawn Teed (5-2), Adams didn’t watch any of Teed’s film. As for why not, he says it stems from sympathy for his opponent. “I don’t ever look at my opponent’s film. I don’t watch them fight; I don’t like to think about it. The more I watch them fight, the more I think about them and view them kind of as people, and then I feel kind of bad about what I’m ‘bout to do to them.” 

“I feel kind of bad about what I’m ‘bout to do to them.”

But, although he didn’t watch any film, Adams had a clear plan entering the contest. “My coaches were telling me everything that he likes to do. My game plan was, you know, keep it on the feet. If I did take him down, if I did get it to the ground, I was gonna let him up until I knew he didn’t have anything left. We wanted to push the pace the entire time.”

Humorously, Adams points out an ironic twist. While he wasn’t watching any of his opponent’s film, someone in his opponent’s camp was a frequent visitor to his own social media pages. “It was actually funny, cause his girlfriend was watching all of my Instagram stuff. I thought that was hilarious. It was at a time when I was getting, like, maybe a hundred people viewing my stuff a day, so I knew who was always watching. I was like, ‘who the hell is this? She keeps popping up near the top.’ Then I saw her, and I thought that was hilarious.”

“His girlfriend was watching all of my Instagram stuff. I thought that was hilarious.”


Time to Get Crackin’

Adams recalls a focused mindset before entering the UFC Octagon. “The entire time there, all I was thinking was, ‘this is my show; it’s my time.’ I don’t care about him. He’s just a canvas for me to display my masterpiece. That’s all I was thinking.”

During the fight, it was clear Adam’s focus manifested itself aptly. “During the fight, we get in there, and I know he hit me a few times, but it never fazed me at any point that I was in danger. When he actually shot for a takedown, I just kind of, like, shrugged it off. I pushed his head down, and as I landed that first one when he was down, I just kept going for his head from there. Then he pulls guard, and the rest was history.”

He’s just a canvas for me to display my masterpiece.”

“The rest was history,” says Adams. But, unfortunately, he missed out on the next moment of his historic night. Typically on the Contender Series, the fighters who earn a UFC contract have the celebratory moment of hearing UFC president, Dana White, announce their name. Not Adams. “I actually couldn’t hear him in the back. All I can remember is, I think it was Morgan, who said, ‘Juan Adams, you’re in the UFC.'”

View this post on Instagram

Well now that I’m all healed up and ready for the next opponent, i figured I’d thank everyone at #dwtncs and the @ufc. You might not have been able to tell but i went into the fight with a slightly hurt hand. It was hurting to throw hooks in practice so we decided on a different game plan. Needless to say the result was the same and there’s no way in hell i was going to pullout from this fight. In this sport shit happens all the time, winners make things happen and losers make excuses. All in all I’m blessed to still be #undefeated and am excited to push myself to the limits again to see what the next fight brings. Huge shoutout to @kinetikchiro for keeping my body ready to go and also @the.cheat.meal for pushing the limits of my programs to bring out the best athlete. This is not the goal, it’s just another milestone. #whosNext #theKraken #kraken #ufc #dwtncs #mma

A post shared by Juan Adams (@chosenjuan285) on

But even after hearing the news for himself, Adams was still in shock. “That was one of the most surprising and surreal things ever because I know Dana had been giving out developmental contracts, and they had only signed one other heavyweight that season,” he said. “All I was thinking was, ‘Oh, they’ve got the Ultimate Fighter [Season 28] coming up, and it’s an all-heavyweight show this year.'”

Once shock subsided, elation took over. “To hear I got the contract… I was really elated,” he said. Adams explained how much the contract meant to him and his team. “I was really emotional, obviously, because it’s been two years of, you know, non-stop fighting pretty much. At that point I had done seven fights in sixteen months, so that was, like, my eighth fight in, like, a year and a half. That was a really stressful time for me and my coaches. One of my coaches had to go backstage and cry a little bit like, ‘it all paid off. Finally.'”


Don’t Bring Up Greg Hardy

I don’t think he belongs in the UFC, frankly. I don’t think he’s a good fighter at all,” says Adams, emphatically giving his take on the controversial ex-NFL star. 

Adams goes on to explain why he thinks that way, assessing Hardy’s previous opponents. “If you look at his opponents, and I’ve said this before, and I’ve pointed it out to numerous people, as an amateur he didn’t fight anyone under the age of thirty-seven. That’s ridiculous.” He then points to Hardy’s first, and last, opponents as prime examples. 

Then you go to his pro debut, and his pro debut was against a guy that weighed around 240 [pounds]. I haven’t weighed 240 since I was fourteen years old. I was a freshman in high school the last time I weighed 240. I’m not taking anything away from that guy’s talent, but he’s not a true heavyweight. And you saw that: he got hit one time and was almost starched…

Did you see his last opponent?! His last opponent looked like Jabba the Hutt out there. It was ridiculous! There’s a clear disconnect in a Greg Hardy-type athlete versus the opponents he’s been facing.”

If Hardy should face him, Adams says, things would be different. “I think everyone knows deep down that he doesn’t stand a chance against me. He’s not on my level. Athletically, one, he’s thirty-years-old, so he’s in his athletic decline. His grappling is unheard of. He has no grappling at all, and he swarms. He gasses out. In both of his fights, he was exhausted in the post-fight interviews and combined, they didn’t last two minutes. So, it’s just a little bit ridiculous to think that he’s even on my level.”

“They’re clearly going to protect him and give him fake opponents, and I’m not an easy opponent by any stretch of the imagination.”


Why He’s So Dominant

Adams says he’s “not an easy opponent”, and virtually no one disputes that. When asked about his undefeated record of all knockouts, Adams quickly chimes in to correct the narrative with a laugh. “Well, actually, one of them was a submission. One guy tapped to strikes.” 

After setting the record straight, Adams breaks down his own game. “I think, honestly, the reason why all of my fights have been first-round TKO finishes is that I don’t let up. I have a relentless pace. With my style of fighting, I’m not trying to knock you out with one punch. I really want to make you quit. That’s why my fights don’t last into the second round or last five minutes. My opponents have never lasted five minutes against me. I just don’t think they’re capable of keeping that pace up.”

“I’m in there to test myself. I push myself to the limit, and I train to know that I’m not gonna stop.”

As for whether or not that would change in the UFC, Adams isn’t sure. “In the UFC you have a little bit of a higher caliber athlete, so that might change, but I don’t see that change coming anytime soon, if ever. I don’t think anyone can match my pace at the heavyweight level, and no one is my size. I know I’m the largest athlete in the UFC, and I think I’m the best athlete in the heavyweight division.”


The Heaviest Heavyweight

Juan Adams might not be the biggest name yet, but he’s certainly the biggest fighter in the UFC. Standing at six-foot-five, Adams has a large, powerful frame to fill. And he fills it. Substantially.

Right now I weigh 290 pounds, so we’re trying to slim up a little bit. Normally, after fights I would get up to about 305,” he says. “This time we really toned down on the partying and really tightened up on the diet so we could be within striking distance if we get a last-minute call-up, which is all I can hope for right now because I’m not scheduled for anything.”

Given that Adams typically weighs around 300 pounds, he endures a rare, mind-blowing weight cut to get down within the northern heavyweight limit of 266 pounds. Adams says it hasn’t been much trouble, crediting his team. “My first cut was pretty hard to get down to the 266-pound limit, but we have it down to a science.”

Despite the ability to make 266 safely, Adams expressed interest in a hypothetical UFC expansion – a super-heavyweight division. “If it was possible, I would love a super heavyweight division just so I could have the opportunity to be a two-division champion and fight more frequently. The only thing holding back the frequency at which I fight is the weight cut.”

“If there was a super heavyweight division, I could possibly do one fight at heavyweight and then a month later at super heavyweight, and possibly double the number of fights I have in a year.”


Seeing How Heavyweight Shakes Out

But with the super-heavyweight division still just an idea, Adams turns his focus onto the heavyweight division. “The same top six or seven guys are gonna stay in that rating area, and then you might see a little shakeup of the eight to fifteen as these younger guys like myself start to move up in there.”

Of course, Adams says his arrival marks the closing of the window for the division’s best. “But, for the most part, I give it two to three years. Once I’m in there, it just becomes a bombing list. I’ve said it before, I’m fine with fighting everyone in the division, and I want there to be no doubt when my time’s done where I stand and what I was capable of.”

“I’m coming for everyone in the division. That’s all there is to it.”

Adams then broke down some of the division’s highest profile upcoming fights.

Mark Hunt vs. Alexei Oleinik

Regarding this weekend’s UFC Moscow bout between the legendary Mark Hunt and submission specialist, Alexei Oleinik, Adams leans towards the hometown favorite. “That one is tough for me. I think if Alexei Oleinik can utilize good footwork and get past Mark Hunt’s punches, he can definitely take him down. If he takes him down, it’s either gonna be a submission or a lay-and-pray style of fight. So it’s either Oleinik by submission or by decision.”

Derrick Lewis vs. Alexander Volkov

Juan Adams is big. Alexander Volkov and Derrick Lewis are two of the only heavyweights who can hope to rival his size. Adams leans towards his fellow Texan in this one. “I think Derrick Lewis is going to starch him. I think it will be probably a second round starch. Volkov will probably try to go in there and keep his distance. When the distance closes, Derrick is very good. I don’t think Volkov stands much of a chance, and if Derrick touches him, he’s done.

Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis Ngannou 2

Adams has trained with Curtis Blaydes in the past, but he doesn’t think there’s any bias in his prediction for Blaydes’ fight with Francis Ngannou. “I’ve got Curtis Blaydes all day in this one. I know first hand, I’ve seen his growth and improvement just from the last time I trained with him in late May, early June. He’s a completely different fighter from last time they fought. Last time they fought, it was a doctor’s stoppage, and I think Curtis would’ve won that one in the third round anywhere. Curtis has done nothing but get better, and Francis has looked like he’s had a regression; like people have figured him out since then. I have Curtis in this one, and I think Curtis finishes him in the early third.”

Junior dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa

I think Junior dos Santos is going to handily beat Tai Tuivasa,” says Adams. “I don’t think it’s going to be a knockout, but I think it’s going to be a very lopsided decision. I think Tai stole one from Andrei Arlovski. I thought Arlovski won that fight. But if it goes to a decision, I have Junior dos Santos either way. I think his striking is better than Tuivasa’s. Tuivasa does have power – you have to respect that – I just think it’s two completely different worlds of skill.”


What’s Next for the Kraken

While Adam’s skill for analyzing the division’s fights is as impressive as it is fascinating, the wealth of options to choose to analyze from stands in stark contrast to his own fight offers, of which there are few. “No one’s called me out. I’ve actually jokingly called out Walt Harris. I know there’s no way they’re going to give me that fight, I just really wanted to go to Canada to fight.” As for why Canada, Adams laughingly points to his coaches. “My trainer really wants to go to Toronto for some reason.”

Two names make up Adam’s shortlist of likely opponents, Junior Albini and Chris de la Rocha. When asked why he wanted to face Albini, Adams responded respectfully. “It’s nothing personal at all, I just see him fight, and I see he’s game. He’s pretty good. He’s decent everywhere. I really want to push myself, test myself, and I’ve never been past five minutes. I train my butt off to be able to do this for long periods of time, and I’m never getting that opportunity. That’s why I thought that would be a really fun fight because there’s nowhere for me to take a break. He’s not bad anywhere.”

I wanted a test, so I threw his name out there.”

As for de la Rocha, Adams believes that the styles make the fight. “I really think Chris de la Rocha would be a great fight for me. It would be fun. He’s game; he’s a brawler. I’m down with that. I’m down with a brawl. I don’t mind getting hit and I don’t mind giving hits.”

“In my head, I’m the baddest dude on the planet. I think that my wrestling is that good, and my ground and pound is that vicious, and my pace is unrelenting.”


Legacies, College Nicknames, and the Ladies

Everyone wants to be remembered. For Juan Adams, it’s about being a trailblazer. “I want them to say that I brought something to the division that was sorely in need of and that they had never seen before. That’s what I want to be remembered as, someone who kind of changed the name of heavyweight fighting.”

No matter what Juan Adams is remembered as, his name is now synonymous with “The Kraken”. As for how he got that nickname, Adams recalls two significant college memories. First, alcohol. “I really like Kraken Rum,” Adams says. “It got me through the dark days at VMI [Virginia Military Institute], that’s my college. So, I’ve got a special bond with it.”

Second, comes his physical comparison with the mythical beast. “I was rolling one day and I was training at the gym and the guys were like, ‘man, fighting with you… it’s just arms and legs coming from everywhere,’ and they knew what was going to happen. One of my buddies was just like, ‘oh, that’s it! They should call you the Kraken because you pull people into deep waters and you’re this giant, insurmountable force.’ It kind of just stuck and I ran with it.”

But perhaps even more synonymous with Adams’ name than “the Kraken”, or even as a heavyweight revolutionary, is the term, ‘ladies’ man’. Since signing the UFC contract, Adams says it’s been a, uh, lively scene. “Probably not in the best interests to say any stories, but the action has definitely increased. My trainers have actually implemented some rules and guidelines for me. I’ve got to keep it mild, because one is kind of, like, entering that girlfriend zone, so I don’t want to incriminate myself. It’s a very weak pleading the fifth,” he says with a laugh. 


Juan “The Kraken” Adams is, literally, the next big thing. But he’s more than that. He’s a partyer with the patience and calm of a thirty-fight veteran. He’s a heavyweight with the pace of a lightweight. And, most importantly, he’s someone who can balance the rare attributes of athletic prowess, fun-loving sociability, and cerebral, responsible diligence equally.

Make sure to follow his rise to the top of the UFC. You can follow Juan Adams on the following platforms:

Twitter: @chosenjuan285

Instagram: @chosenjuan285

Facebook: Juan Adams

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Hey, all! My name is Michael Fiedel, and I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I love everything there is about MMA, particularly jiu jitsu. I do my best to cover what's going on in the sport, and my favorite thing to do is cover up-and-coming prospects. Thanks for reading!