Paul Craig, the Scottish fighter in the UFC middleweight division, might be planning to come back to the ring in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He goes by the nickname "Bearjew." His last match was in November 2023, where he lost to Brendan Allen by submission in the main event of UFC Fight Night 198.
Sources close to Craig indicate that the 35-year-old fighter is keen on making a comeback to the octagon and taking on one of the top contenders in the middleweight division. Craig, with a professional record of 17 wins and 8 losses, currently holds the #12 spot in the UFC middleweight rankings.
Over his last six fights, he has secured victories in four, showcasing impressive knockouts against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Johnny Walker.
Nikita Krylov, the Ukrainian fighter ranked #9 in the middleweight division, is being considered as one of the potential opponents for Craig. Krylov, with a record of 28 wins and 8 losses, recently secured a unanimous decision victory over Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267 in October 2023.
Interestingly, Krylov and Craig were initially scheduled to face off at UFC London in March 2022, but the bout was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another fighter Craig might face is Thiago Santos, a Brazilian ranked #10 in the middleweight division. Santos, with 22 wins and 10 losses, recently won a split decision against Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 268 in November 2023. Santos, who used to compete in the light heavyweight division, shifted to middleweight in 2023. He has previously shown interest in fighting Craig.
Craig is keen on fighting in Rio de Janeiro to soak in the Brazilian crowd and culture. Being a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he holds a deep respect for Brazilian fighters and fans. Additionally, Craig has trained in Brazil before, maintaining connections with friends and teammates from the region.
In addition, Craig sees fighting in Rio de Janeiro as an excellent chance to display his skills and captivate the fans. He believes that competing in Brazil would inspire him to give his best performance and demonstrate his abilities against the top middleweights globally.
As of now, the UFC has not officially revealed any plans for hosting an event in Rio de Janeiro in 2024. However, there are speculations that the promotion is considering a return to Brazil in the first half of the year. The last UFC event in Brazil took place in May 2019, where Jessica Andrade emerged victorious over Rose Namajunas, securing the strawweight championship at UFC 237.
Should the UFC choose Rio de Janeiro for an event in 2024, Craig is eager to be part of the card, taking on one of the top middleweights. He emphasizes his readiness to fight under any circumstances, as long as there's a worthy opponent and fair terms.
Expressing his goal to retire by the end of 2024, Craig aims to make the most of his remaining fights, aspiring to realize his dream of becoming the UFC middleweight champion.
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