Paul Craig showed off his improved striking skills tonight as he put Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in trouble in the opening round, and though the Brazilian would rally with takedowns and top control in the rounds that followed the fight was declared a split draw.
Leg kick for Shogun. Solid body kick for Craig. Now a leg kick and throws a spining wheel kick too.
Another body kick for Craig. Uppercut from him as he closes the distance and tries for a takedown. Shogun defends though and then presses Craig into the cage.
Knee to the leg from Shogun and then they jockey for position against the cage. Shogun winning that battle for now and working some knees to the legs.
Craig lands a hook as they break apart. Body kicks from Craig. Shogun catches a single leg and thinks about a takedown, but Craig applies a standing guillotine choke.
Craig suddenly unleashing big punches now with Shogun backed up against the cage. Shogun covering up as Craig continues to tee off. Shogun starts to fire back now and lands, at which point Craig ducks into the clinch and tries to work a takedown.
Nothing doing with that and they go back to striking range. Right hand counter for Shogun. Body kick for Craig.
Now it’s Shogun who is clinching up again thinking about a takedown, but gives up on that quickly. Solid hook for Shogun.
Spinning kick from Craig comes off the guard. Shogun wearing some damage on his face though and that wasn’t what he would have expected from Craig, who is primarily a grappler.
One-two for Shogun. Craig clinches up against the cage as the round comes to an end.
Leg kick for Shogun. Body kick for Craig. Elbow attempt from Craig then a leg kick. Another lands.
Jab for Craig and Shogun lands a left hand in return. Shogun misses with a heavy blow and Craig lands one instead.
Suddenly they go to the mat with Shogun on top and he’s landing heavy ground and pound. Craig trying for an armbar and then Shogun pulls out and blasts back down with a punch.
Shogun trying to pass guard, but then has to settle for remaining there for now as Craig threatens with another submission.
Shogun backs up and then dives into his guard again with a big punch. Shogun stands again with 90 seconds remaining. he misses with a punch as he drops in again.
Shogun posturing and not getting anything off so he stands again. Right hand lands as Shogun goes down again. This time he’s in half-guard.
Not much action from Shogun and Craig lands hammerfists from his back to end the round.
Leg kick from Shogun. Front kick to the body from Craig. Now another body kick. Inside leg kick for Shogun.
Uppercut for Craig. Two leg kicks and one up high from Craig. Shogun with a takedown though now. Craig attempts a sweep, but Shogun stays on top.
Shogun trying to pass guard, but nothing doing for now as he postures up. Hammerfist from Craig lands. Shogun stands over his opponent.
Shogun comes back down, just missing an upkick on the way. Two minutes remaining with Shogun still in Craig’s guard and taking his time.
A couple more hammerfists from Craig. Shogun stands and leg kicks his grounded opponent. He wades back in with a right hand.
30 seconds to go. Shogun stands again. He’s just ticking down the clock here and Craig knows it and stands back up.
Shogun starts landing hard punches. He connects again and Craig seemed hurt there, but disguises it by instantly going for the clinch and then landing a takedown before the bell sounds.
Close fight then. Craig did very well as a late replacement here and despite his grappling credentials actually gave Shogun a very tough fight on the feet, whereas the Brazilian’s best moment generally came with takedowns and control on top.
The judges return their verdict and there’s no winner – the fight is declared a split draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28).