Paul Craig had a very strong first round against Shogun Rua, then faded as the fight went on, leading to a split draw at UFC Sao Paulo.
The legendary Shogun Rua was in action at UFC Sao Paulo, looking to build off a win over prospect Tyson Pedro last December. Shogun, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, had been on the shelf since. He was originally scheduled to fight Sam Alvey at the Sao Paulo card, but Alvey was forced out due to a broken hand. In his place, Paul Craig stepped in to face the PRIDE legend.
Paul Craig came out quickly and landed a hard body kick then a wheel kick. Craig initiated a clinch and got Shogun against the cage. Craig is the taller fighter, and utilized that to his advantage against the cage. He pushed back and landed a heavy elbow then a barrage of hooks as Shogun covered up. Shogun wasn’t budging, so Craig shot for a takedown, then turned that into a standing headlock. After they separated, Shogun landed a combination, then a jab, but the first round was all Craig.
Shogun pushed forward to start the second round, but went right into a body kick. Craig threw a kick that was caught by Shogun, leading to a takedown for the Brazilian legend. Craig was happy to be on his back, until Shogun landed some vintage ground-and-pound that caught the attention of Craig. Shogun avoided two submission attempts and got to side control, continuing to stay dangerous with his ground and pound. Several times, Shogun stood up from guard to land a diving punch on Craig, and the Scottish fighter never made an effort to stand.
Shogun got an early takedown after some success on the feet from Craig. Craig wasn’t threatening with submissions and when Shogun stood up, he didn’t make an effort to return to his feet. The same sequence happened again, with Shogun landing a diving punch. Again, Craig couldn’t get a submission off of it, and Shogun returned to his feet with 20 seconds left. Craig stood up and stormed forward, eating a combination, then landing one of his own followed by a takedown. If he had tried this earlier in the round, perhaps it would have made a difference.
Shogun Rua and Paul Craig Fight to a Split Draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28)