Light Heavyweight Bout
Just over one year to the date, since their first fight, we will see a rematch of a fight which resulted in a split draw between Paul “BearJew” Craig and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Each fighter has fought and won once since that fight, Rua won a split decision in a rematch with Antonio Nogueira, and Craig defeated Gadzhimurad Antigulov by triangle choke in round one of their July contest.
Paul Craig is 4-4-1 in the UFC and his career has been an absolute roller coaster. Only one fight in his career has gone the distance, the first fight with Rua. His other fights include 3 submission wins, two by triangle choke and one by rear naked choke, and four losses, three by knockout and one by Kimura.
Craig has a questionable chin, sub-par wrestling and poor skills in the clinch. His best strike is either his lead head kick or his lead side kick. He has a pretty good jab ands shown some improved striking. He has shown some creative kickboxing but he doesn’t always defend himself well on his feet. His takedown skills are average but he has shown to be most dangerous from his back.
He isn’t extremely advanced in jiu jitsu but he has definitely mastered a few positions, transitions and submissions, particularly his triangle choke. His triangle from full guard is among the most technically sound being displayed in the UFC today, and its the primary reason he has been able to secure 12 victories by submission in his professional career.
Shogun is patient on his feet and loves to use lead leg kicks to bait opponents in and set up counter jabs. When he presses forward, he does it in bursts and sprints forward throwing heavy shots. He does sometimes get tagged, but Craig isn’t all that much of a threat with his hands. Rua has great body kicks and a mean overhand right.
Rua also looks to control fights in the clinch and do damage with his knees. When he goes to the ground, Run is usually looking to do damage, not look for submissions. If he chases after damage from top positions in this fight, he may not be defending himself well from Craig’s submission attempts.
In the first fight between these two, Paul Craig looked as good as he ever has, and Run looked underwhelming for most fans. Craig came out and got busy early, throwing his jab and following it with front kicks, mixing up his striking and avoiding damage. He was able to do damage from the clinch.
When the fight did go to the ground, Craig wasn’t able to work his submissions, and was controlled and beaten on. Rua is just too advanced to allow Craig to put him in a vulnerable position on the ground.
We think there are a number of profitable angles on this fight. Paul Craig is a fairly safe favorite for his price at -170, and that line is moving up (time of writing Wednesday 11/19/2020 11:36 pm EST) for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that he out struck Rua in their first fight and appeared to have improved in his most recent fight, while Run appears to be moving backwards.
We will not be including Craig in any parlays, because he’s too comfortable fighting from his back. If he spends the entire fight there, he’s going to lose on the scorecards. We are very confident that it will, in fact, go to the scorecards, and the over is fairly priced at 2.5 rounds -135.
Craig by submission is worth nothing more than a hedge play here at +255. Rua by KO/TKO also makes sense as a hedge play, currently being listed at +500