Paul Craig is aiming to turn into UFC light-heavyweight champion and plans to beat Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Johnny Walker to be able to realise his dream.
Craig, who was a college instructor, got here inside minutes of doubtless 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 outcome this time round.
“I feel it’s that in regards to the camp,” he advised talkSPORT.com. “You possibly can take fights on the final minute.
“However I feel you at all times have to be on prime and, as regards to at all times being on, I don’t have an low season. With regards to taking day off and solely consuming what I would like and ingesting tons and never coaching, I’m at all times on.
“I have a tendency to not over-consume, over-indulge or under-train as a result of I’m at all times on. I feel that’s what allowed me to step in there on three weeks’ discover and get a great outcome. I don’t assume it was a nasty outcome, the draw on the time felt dangerous to me as a result of I at all times need to win.
“However as I look again within the yr since I’ve fought him; I’m a a lot better fighter, I’m a a lot better striker and I’ve received the skillset to take care of ‘Shogun’ Rua.
“We noticed what he did in that battle there after which we began engaged on the way in which to take care of that. So, my coach, he’s obsessive about watching footage and he loves watching footage to give you completely different methods.
“The very fact now we have such a great crew dynamic about us means we will lean on different folks like black belts from different golf equipment to have their enter. I feel this is among the finest 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 degree with the likes of Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira with 5 submissions within the UFC light-heavyweight division in addition to essentially 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.
“Whenever you speak about information for submissions and triangles, that’s my legacy,” he continued. “I’d like to be ‘Shogun’ Rua’s final battle.
“He’s received no different attracts on his document; he’s both received 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 received 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 received no energy, he determined he needed to run this battle again. He’s received great pull inside the UFC.”
Jon Jones vacated the UFC light-heavyweight belt earlier this yr to be able to pursue his aim of turning into heavyweight champion.
In doing so, Jan Blachowicz crammed 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 prime contenders at 205lbs and loads of thrilling fights on supply if somebody can get a run going.
Craig, who spent his youthful years educating teenagers vocational expertise, is now planning an assault on the title which may embody a barnstorming battle with Johnny Walker.
“We had really requested for Johnny Walker previous to getting the Shogun battle,” he revealed. “It’s not that we had seen plenty 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 capacity to remain tight, journey out that storm and get a victory over him.
“We’re at all times trying to the subsequent battle; we just lately watched [Misha] Cirkunov who has been matched with Ryan Spann, who I used to be imagined to be combating.
“Everybody within the division has kind of been matched up so I feel it’s simply going to be a kind of issues the place we’re going to have to attend and see who’s going to be our subsequent opponent.
“However, finally, what we’re on the lookout for is that this [Shogun fight] after which a five-round battle to organize for a title battle.
“I’m not wanting by means of Shogun or previous him, I’ve nonetheless received a mountain to climb with reference to that. However we need to transfer into that prime 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 prime of these lists for submissions and triangles and I’ve received 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 objectives.
“Trying on the division now, it’s extensive open. You’ve received Jan [Blachowicz] in that primary place, however the division is open man. I feel all people has received 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 a lot better as a result of he’s not clutching at that title any extra and it simply means there are extra folks attempting to get to it now.”