Saturday, January 22, 2022

Paul Craig Names Oezdemir and Walker As Possible Next Opponents

UFC light heavyweight Paul Craig has stated that he wants to keep fighting regularly and has named two top 10’s as potential next opponents.

This comes after Craig opened the UFC 263 main card in a brutal way against Jamahal Hill on June 12. Against the previously undefeated 30-year-old, “Bearjew” extended his UFC unbeaten streak to five fights.

Having entered the pay-per-view as a sizeable underdog, the Scot rewarded those who had backed him within the opening two minutes of the bout.

After the fight moved to the ground, Craig immediately worked for a submission and locked in a tight armbar. A gruesome dislocated elbow signaled the end for Hill, although it took a few strikes for referee Al Guinee to be convinced.

During an appearance on SiriusXM‘s Unlocking the Cage, Paul Craig said that having risen to 12th in the 205-pound rankings, it feels good to finally see his skill being recognized.

“You know, we’ve been at the top 15 or just outside it for the last three years, we’re fighting these unbeaten opponents, we’re facing some of the toughest guys in the division and not progressing at all,” Craig said. “So, it was good to see us break into that top 15 after we beat Shogun (Rua), and then from beating Shogun, beating Jamahal Hill, (and) now making it into that top 12.”

Craig added that he’s looking to continue fighting regularly in 2021 and wants a top 10 opponent like Volkan Oezdemir or Johnny Walker when he next enters the Octagon.

“I’m looking to have my next bout with somebody in the top 10, someone like Oezdemir or, you know, Johnny Walker, someone like that, someone who’s higher ranked than me. And we’ll not pull out because, ultimately, I wanna fight as much as I possibly can.”

But despite naming Walker, the 33-year-old suggested that there’d be a higher chance of the fight being called off if he faced the Brazilian over Oezdemir.

“Jonny Walker’s one of these opponents in the light heavyweight (division) who always pulls out for injuries because he trains so hard and he’s wild. I want somebody who’s not going to pull out and I want to fight as many times as I possibly can in 2021. So, I think Oezdemir is the guy for that.”

But it seems that Craig won’t be getting his target of choice if he is to fight again soon. Oezdemir is reportedly set to face Magomed Ankalaev in August.

With Walker matched up with Thiago Santos for a September event, it appears Craig will have to alter his crosshairs to Nikita Krylov, who is perhaps the only available top 10 that the UFC is likely to pair him with.

If that isn’t possible and he wants to remain active like he says, he may have to broaden his search radius to a top 15.

Who would you like to see Paul Craig face next?

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