Interestingly, Paul Craig seems to think Jamahal Hill’s striking is not on par with what is required to stay atop the UFC rankings.
The remarks come a bit shocking as the #14 ranked Craig has nearly double the professional fights as Hill with only two TKO/knockout victories. In comparison, Hill has had 8 professional fights, and in those, the light heavyweight stopped four of his opponents by strikes. The two will meet in the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 263.
Despite not being known for his hands, Paul “Bearjew” Craig is a renowned grappler and has pulled off some amazing upsets with slick triangle chokes. The light heavyweight has 12 submissions of his 14 professional wins so it stands to reason that this scrap likely won’t see the judges. Despite a postponement due to Hill contracting COVID-19, Paul Craig gave a frank evaluation of Hill’s striking acumen before they step into the cage.
“I think Jamahal Hill is a very, very good striker, but his level of striking for the UFC – I don’t think it’s there. He’s claiming that he’s got the best jab in the division, but I find that really hard to believe. His striking is good, but it’s not UFC level. We’re going to find out if his grappling is UFC-level; that’s what we’ll see next.” Craig said to the UFC.
Paul Craig admits Hill is an excellent striker but just does not see him on the same terms as say an Edson Barboza type of striker. Even so, the light heavyweight will no doubt have his hands full on Saturday night as Hill provides a puzzling challenge while standing.
“When you’re thinking about someone whose kicking is dangerous, you’re thinking about someone like (Edson) Barboza. You’re thinking about people who have heavy hands, you’re thinking about your Khalil Rountrees, your Jimmy Crutes. He doesn’t fit in that bracket. He’s very experienced and very athletic, but it’s MMA. It’s a full sport. It’s the grappling, it’s the athleticism, it’s everything.” Paul Craig concluded.
Heading into his curtain-opener battle with Hill, Craig reiterates the importance of an overall MMA game. With a great spot on a giant pay-per-view, there is no doubt one of these men will emerge as a serious player in the light heavyweight division when the matchmakers are sipping their coffee Tuesday morning.
Who is your pick between Jamahal Hill and Paul Craig? Let us know!