Paul Craig is aiming to change into UFC light-heavyweight champion and plans to beat Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Johnny Walker with a purpose to realise his dream.
Craig, who was a college instructor, got here inside minutes of probably being launched by the promotion at UFC London in 2019 when he was being mercilessly pummelled by Magomed Ankalaev.
Nevertheless, he discovered a final minute triangle to safe a win which successfully saved his MMA profession and stored him from returning to the classroom.
This cavalier and daring perspective noticed him step up on simply three weeks’ discover to face ‘Shogun’ Rua in his Brazil hometown and declare a reputable draw.
Craig was despondent with the draw after a livid begin however, with a rematch set for the UFC Apex this night, the Lanarkshire native is assured of securing a optimistic end result this time round.
“I feel it’s that concerning the camp,” he informed talkSPORT.com. “You may take fights on the final minute.
“However I feel you all the time must be on high and, as regards to all the time being on, I don’t have an low season. In terms of taking break day and solely consuming what I would like and consuming heaps and never coaching, I’m all the time on.
“I have a tendency to not over-consume, over-indulge or under-train as a result of I’m all the time on. I feel that’s what allowed me to step in there on three weeks’ discover and get a great end result. I don’t suppose it was a nasty end result, the draw on the time felt dangerous to me as a result of I all the time need to win.
“However as I look again within the yr since I’ve fought him; I’m a significantly better fighter, I’m a significantly better striker and I’ve obtained the skillset to cope with ‘Shogun’ Rua.
“We noticed what he did in that battle there after which we began engaged on the way in which to cope with that. So, my coach, he’s obsessive about watching footage and he loves watching footage to give you totally different methods.
“The actual fact now we have such a great workforce dynamic about us means we will lean on different individuals like black belts from different golf equipment to have their enter. I feel this is among the greatest camps now we have had, shifting into this battle.”
Craig was final seen on Struggle Island again in July on Darren Until’s undercard when he submitted Gadzhimurad Antigulov within the first spherical.
In doing so, he moved stage with the likes of Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira with 5 submissions within the UFC light-heavyweight division in addition to probably the most triangle chokes in UFC historical past (3).
Nevertheless, whereas information are unbelievable, the ‘Bearjew’ is hoping to finish Rua’s UFC profession to spice up his personal legacy.
“Once you discuss information for submissions and triangles, that’s my legacy,” he continued. “I might like to be ‘Shogun’ Rua’s final battle.
“He’s obtained no different attracts on his document; he’s both gained or misplaced. So all these form of issues simply add to my legacy and I can form of tag onto the again of his legacy by combating him.
“We noticed final yr he obtained inducted into the Corridor of Fame for his battle in opposition to Dan Henderson. Possibly that’s what it’s going to be like with me!
“A 3-round battle the place I completely hose him, then a trilogy battle as a result of he’s the man with energy.
“I’ve obtained no energy, he determined he needed to run this battle again. He’s obtained large pull inside the UFC.”
Jon Jones vacated the UFC light-heavyweight belt earlier this yr with a purpose to pursue his aim of turning into heavyweight champion.
In doing so, Jan Blachowicz stuffed the void created by ‘Bones’ by knocking out Dominick Reyes at UFC 251. Nevertheless, on the age of 37 and with eight defeats on his document, the Pole is unlikely to reign for an eternity.
There are a number of high contenders at 205lbs and loads of thrilling fights on provide if somebody can get a run going.
Craig, who spent his youthful years educating teenagers vocational abilities, is now planning an assault on the title which may embody a barnstorming battle with Johnny Walker.
“We had truly requested for Johnny Walker previous to getting the Shogun battle,” he revealed. “It’s not that we had seen a number of holes in Johnny Walker’s combating model, however what we had seen is he makes errors after which explodes out of them.
“So he’ll miss a kick after which come again spherical with a spinning again fist and he simply turns it on. So we consider in my skillset and my potential to remain tight, journey out that storm and get a victory over him.
“We’re all the time trying to the subsequent battle; we not too long ago watched [Misha] Cirkunov who has been matched with Ryan Spann, who I used to be purported to be combating.
“Everybody within the division has type of been matched up so I feel it’s simply going to be a type of issues the place we’re going to have to attend and see who’s going to be our subsequent opponent.
“However, in the end, what we’re in search of is that this [Shogun fight] after which a five-round battle to arrange for a title battle.
“I’m not trying by Shogun or previous him, I’ve nonetheless obtained a mountain to climb with reference to that. However we want to transfer into that high 10 and beat somebody with the next rating in a five-round battle. As soon as we get that five-round battle, then we’re going to be taking a look at that title.
“I need to be a champion. I’m high of these lists for submissions and triangles and I’ve obtained a number of information, however the one document I would like is the primary contender and having the belt. I would like the belt.
“I feel, for my first yr positively within the UFC, I didn’t have that aim. It wasn’t till I sat down and spoke with sports activities psychologists and my coach and set myself new targets.
“Wanting on the division now, it’s huge open. You’ve obtained Jan [Blachowicz] in that primary place, however the division is open man. I feel everyone has obtained a possibility to capitalise on this and it makes the light-heavyweight division much more thrilling.
“Jon Jones shifting as much as heavyweight has made this division so significantly better as a result of he’s not clutching at that title any extra and it simply means there are extra individuals making an attempt to get to it now.”