Skip to main content
Paul Craig of Scotland poses for a post fight portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
Athletes

Paul Craig Is Bringing 'Everything And The Kitchen Sink' To UFC 301

Scottish Middleweight Plans On Putting On A Show For The Brazilian Fans At UFC 301

Paul Craig fights are always must-see TV, and he freely admits, they usually involve him finding himself on the receiving end. But that's just how the "BearJew" likes it, and the Scottish middleweight plans on fighting through the fire to earn his 18th career win at UFC 301 this weekend.

Craig takes on rising Brazilian contender Caio Borralho in what, on paper, looks like a potentially wild matchup at 185 pounds. It's a bout that pits Craig against a man who hasn't lost since his second pro fight, and comes into the matchup riding a perfect 5-0 record inside the Octagon. He's doing it on Borralho's home soil in Brazil, too.

"They're going to support the local, they're not going to support the guy who's traveled 12 hours to get here," he told UFC.com.

Order UFC 301: Pantoja vs Erceg

"So I get it. I understand it. If you fight on UK soil, you're gonna get the exact same thing. But, obviously, Brazilians are a little bit wilder when it comes to throwing love, and throwing shade! And I guarantee, by the end of the fight, regardless of win, lose, or draw, the fans are gonna appreciate the performance I put on, on Saturday night."

Craig's unique fighting style is a fascinating one, and it's one that many top names in the UFC – including Jamahal Hill, Magomed Ankalaev, Nikita Krylov and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua – have been unable to stop. Everybody knows his aim is to get the fight to the ground and snatch up a submission. It often sees him taking a fair amount of punishment along the way, but it's brought him plenty of success, and notoriety, as a result.

Please enable Javascript to view this content

"UFC fans love a performance," he explained.

"If you go out there and win, and it's not a performance, and it's not entertaining, then they'll let you know that, and they'll let you know that during the fight, as well, if you're not doing what they want you to do.

MORE UFC 301: Get To Know Steve Erceg | Get To Know Alexandre Pantoja | Fight By Fight Breakdown | On The Rise

"And I love the fact that you can turn fans who didn't like you 15 minutes before, and then by the time you leave the Octagon, you maybe get some new fans. The Brazilian fans are definitely gonna be loving me on Saturday."

The fight will be Craig's third in the middleweight division. His debut at 185 pounds saw him finish Andre Muniz with elbows at UFC London last July. But his main event showcase against Brendan Allen ended with a third-round submission defeat. It showed Craig that there was still some recalibrating to do before they finally hit the sweet spot with his preparation to compete in his new weight class.

"There's still some bugs we're working out," he admitted.

"What's the prime number to start the cut from? How much body fat should we have? Fat mass? All these kinds of things that we're still working out.

Paul Craig of Scotland kicks Andre Muniz of Brazil in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Paul Craig of Scotland kicks Andre Muniz of Brazil in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

"We're also still working in the point of going back-to-back with a fight camp. We need a little bit of time between fights, maybe like two months, just to rebuild back up to where we were.

"That was one of the things we found going into the Brendan Allen fight after our victory in London. We went straight into a fight camp in an already depleted state, and then we depleted the resources even more.

UFC 301 FREE FIGHTS: Pantoja vs Moreno 2 | Erceg vs Schnell | Martinez vs Yanez | Aldo vs Mendes 1 

"So, moving forward, we had a nice couple of months off, and then we started rebuilding, and I generally feel much better in my body. So, regardless of the outcome, I feel much better as a middleweight taking a few extra months off."

Craig was at pains to state that his weight management prep should not detract from Allen's dominant performance against him that night - "Allen put a beating on me" – but his team is getting better at making the tweaks needed to optimize his preparation.

Craig also explained how he's getting better at processing his losses. Some fighters suffer the taste of defeat early in their careers, but Craig didn't lose until his 10th pro fight, in his second UFC appearance, as he lost to Tyson Pedro at UFC 209.

Paul Craig of Scotland attempts to submit Nikita Krylov of Ukraine in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Paul Craig of Scotland attempts to submit Nikita Krylov of Ukraine in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

"I'm getting older, I'm getting wiser, and I'm getting a little bit more mature at dealing with these losses," he said.

"I've had a couple of them on my record now, but it still hurts and it's still one of the worst feelings in the world to know that you've been bested by another man. But, moving forward, it's definitely a massive difference by (understanding that) losses are just as important as wins in this sport.

UFC 301 Embedded

"When I first started in mixed martial arts, I had been on this tear. I was unbeaten, made it to UFC, beat my first opponent, and then I had my first loss ever as a professional. And I took it really, really hard.

"It felt like my world was colliding, and I probably slipped into a little bit of depression. I wanted to keep that ‘0’ for the rest of my life, but it's very difficult to do in this sport. There's only a few fighters who have ever managed to do it, then walk away.

"But it was like two fights it took me to actually get through this grieving process after losing to an opponent. Now I deal with it much better but, as I say, it still hurts, and it still cuts you up when you go backstage. I like to be myself after a fight, and there's just everybody around and about. You're dealing with some emotion, and all you want to do is let out some tears and just grieve in your own way."

Paul Craig of Scotland celebrates his submission victory over Vinicius Moreira of Brazil in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Paul Craig of Scotland celebrates his submission victory over Vinicius Moreira of Brazil in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

After taking some time to reset and restart, Craig is all set to face Borralho in Rio this weekend in a bout that will kick off the pay-per-view main card. He knows that the fans will be expecting a crowd-pleasing clash, and he's more than happy to oblige.

"That main card opening slot is always going to be a barnburner, and that's what I think you're gonna get," he stated.

"There's definitely going to be some blood, there's definitely gonna be sweat, there's definitely gonna be tears, snot, it's going to be everything and the kitchen sink. And you always get that with a Paul Craig fight, anyway.

"I always like to take a little bit of a beating, then sort of Hulk up, and that's one of the things you can never ever count me out.

Order UFC 301: Pantoja vs Hill

"If you think of my last-minute submission against Ankalaev, the last couple of seconds submission of Kennedy Nzechukwu – that's the way I fight. I like to take a little bit of a beating. I like to feel blood running down my face. I like to feel scars materializing. The fans are going to be excited for this fight."

The vociferous Rio crowd is likely to be chanting for his downfall, but Craig is ready to embrace the chaos when he walks out on Saturday night. And, as a fan of the sport, he's also looking forward to seeing the reception Jose Aldo receives when "The King of Rio" makes his return.

How To Watch UFC 301: Pantoja vs Erceg In Your Country

"I cannot wait to hear the noise that Jose Aldo gets on Saturday night," he enthused.

"I'm excited. When I saw he was coming out of retirement to be on this card, I got goosebumps!"

UFC 301: Pantoja vs Erceg took place live from Farmasi Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 4, 2024. See the Final Prelim and Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!