Paul Craig is aiming to develop into UFC light-heavyweight champion and plans to beat Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Johnny Walker with a view to realise his dream.
Craig, who was a faculty 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.
Nonetheless, he discovered a final minute triangle to safe a win which successfully saved his MMA profession and saved him from returning to the classroom.
This cavalier and daring angle 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 consequence this time round.
“I feel it’s that concerning the camp,” he informed talkSPORT.com. “You’ll be able to take fights on the final minute.
“However I feel you at all times should be on high and, almost about at all times being on, I don’t have an low season. With regards to taking time without work and solely consuming what I need and consuming heaps 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 an excellent consequence. I don’t suppose it was a foul consequence, the draw on the time felt dangerous to me as a result of I at all times wish to win.
“However as I look again within the 12 months since I’ve fought him; I’m a significantly better fighter, I’m a significantly better striker and I’ve bought the skillset to take care of ‘Shogun’ Rua.
“We noticed what he did in that struggle there after which we began engaged on the best way to take care of that. So, my coach, he’s obsessive about watching footage and he loves watching footage to provide you with totally different methods.
“The very fact we have now such an excellent workforce dynamic about us means we are able to lean on different individuals like black belts from different golf equipment to have their enter. I feel this is among the finest camps we have now had, transferring into this struggle.”
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).
Nonetheless, whereas information are incredible, the ‘Bearjew’ is hoping to finish Rua’s UFC profession to spice up his personal legacy.
“Once you speak about information for submissions and triangles, that’s my legacy,” he continued. “I’d like to be ‘Shogun’ Rua’s final struggle.
“He’s bought no different attracts on his document; he’s both received or misplaced. So all these type of issues simply add to my legacy and I can type of tag onto the again of his legacy by preventing him.
“We noticed final 12 months he bought inducted into the Corridor of Fame for his struggle in opposition to Dan Henderson. Perhaps that’s what it’s going to be like with me!
“A 3-round struggle the place I completely hose him, then a trilogy struggle as a result of he’s the man with energy.
“I’ve bought no energy, he determined he needed to run this struggle again. He’s bought large pull throughout the UFC.”
Jon Jones vacated the UFC light-heavyweight belt earlier this 12 months with a view to pursue his aim of changing into heavyweight champion.
In doing so, Jan Blachowicz stuffed the void created by ‘Bones’ by knocking out Dominick Reyes at UFC 251. Nonetheless, on the age of 37 and with eight defeats on his document, the Pole is unlikely to reign for an eternity.
There are a bunch 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 might embody a barnstorming struggle with Johnny Walker.
“We had really requested for Johnny Walker previous to getting the Shogun struggle,” he revealed. “It’s not that we had seen plenty of holes in Johnny Walker’s preventing fashion, 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 means to remain tight, trip out that storm and get a victory over him.
“We’re at all times trying to the subsequent struggle; we just lately watched [Misha] Cirkunov who has been matched with Ryan Spann, who I used to be imagined to be preventing.
“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 struggle to organize for a title struggle.
“I’m not trying via Shogun or previous him, I’ve nonetheless bought a mountain to climb with regard to that. However we need to transfer into that high 10 and beat somebody with the next rating in a five-round struggle. As soon as we get that five-round struggle, then we’re going to be that title.
“I wish to be a champion. I’m high of these lists for submissions and triangles and I’ve bought a couple of information, however the one document I need is the primary contender and having the belt. I need the belt.
“I feel, for my first 12 months undoubtedly 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 broad open. You’ve bought Jan [Blachowicz] in that primary place, however the division is open man. I feel all people has bought a chance to capitalise on this and it makes the light-heavyweight division much more thrilling.
“Jon Jones transferring 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.”