Rua, a former UFC light heavyweight and PRIDE middleweight tournament champion, is 11 months removed from a TKO of Tyson Pedro, which improved his octagon return to 4-1 in his previous five outings. He faces Craig, who is stepping in for an injured Sam Alvey. Craig submitted Vinicius Moreira in his last outing to pick up his third UFC performance bonus.
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Round 1: Craig was quick to attack as soon as the fight got started, throwing a variety of kicks from the outside. Craig even managed to uncork a spin kick that nearly connected before getting locked in the clinch with “Shogun” against the cage. The fighters broke apart momentarily but Rua was quick to close the distance as he looked to negate the size and reach advantage from Craig. Following a brief guillotine choke attempt, Craig started unleashing a barrage of punches as he trapped “Shogun” against the cage and just fired a series of shots in succession. Rua survived but he definitely absorbed a lot of damage during the exchange. “Shogun” refused to back down and he continued to pursue Craig, throwing power behind every punch, which forced the Scotsman to latch onto the clinch until the round came to an end.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Paul Craig
Round 2: Craig continued to maintain a strong base with his striking offense with “Shogun” constantly trying to close the distance. Following a brief scramble, the fighters end up on the ground with “Shogun” on top as he began raining down with punches from the top with Craig trying to defend from the bottom. Rua moved to side control briefly before Craig was able to get back to full guard before eating any punches from the Brazilian. “Shogun” continued to maintain control even when standing up out of Craig’s guard as he kept the taller fighter on the ground. “Shogun” eventually jumped back down to the canvas as he looked to employ more ground and pound before the horn sounded to end the round.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Round 3: Much like the first two rounds, Craig was still doing an admirable job controlling the pace on the feet, although both fighters had started to slow down. Another scramble ended with Craig back down on the ground with “Shogun” on top of him with over three minutes remaining in the fight. Rua eventually stood up out of the guard to begin kicking the legs before then diving down with another punch as Craig seemed reticent to try and make an attempt to get back up again. Craig threw a few hard hammer fists from the bottom but “Shogun” avoiding any real damage before standing back up, kicking the legs and then diving back down into the guard again. While “Shogun” failed to really connect with his biggest punches, he remained in control on top. Craig finally stood back up with less than 30 seconds remaining as he came firing for the knockout but “Shogun” was more than happy to trade bombs with him on the feet. Craig did manage a late takedown as time expired to end the fight.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
MMA Fighting scores the fight 29-28 for Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Official result: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Paul Craig declared a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)