UFC light heavyweight contender Paul Craig believes that an opportunity has arisen for him to surge toward the title courtesy of Jamahal Hill’s upcoming shot.
The MMA leader is rapidly approaching its first pay-per-view event of the new year, with UFC 283 set to go down from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 21. On the card, the spotlight will heavily be focused on the 205-pound weight class, where the belt will be up for grabs.
But as well as Hill challenging former champion Glover Teixeira for the vacant gold in the main event, the only man to defeat the 31-year-old Chicago native in professional MMA is also set to feature.
Having suffered a setback at the hands of Volkan Oezdemir in London, Craig will be searching for a rebound performance at the expense of Johnny Walker. But more than just a bounce-back result, the Scottish light heavyweight believes he has an opportunity to leap towards the title picture owing to his 2021 victory over “Sweet Dreams.”
At UFC 263, Craig briefly stalled the rise of Hill. Showing his elite capabilities on the ground, “Bearjew” caught the upcoming title challenger in a triangle before wrenching his arm and dislocating his elbow.
With that history in mind, Craig senses a chance to capitalize on the current scenario at the top of the ladder.
Craig Hopes To See Benefit Of Hill Win Post-UFC 283
During a recent interview with Combat Sports on Fanatics View, Paul Craig assessed his current position in the light heavyweight division following a mixed bag in 2023, which saw him score a memorable submission win over Nikita Krylov prior to his July setback.
Noting his success against Hill two years ago, Craig spoke of the importance of a win at UFC 283 in regards to placing himself in a position to make the most of a possible title crowning for “Sweet Dreams” come fight night in Brazil.
“Dana White comes out and says Jamahal Hill’s getting the title shot… So, the way that light heavyweight’s sitting, I need to get a victory in my next fight,” Craig said. “I need to get back out and get in that winning column again, so when that opportunity comes around and they go, ‘You know what? Jamahal Hill’s just beat Glover and the only person who beat Jamahal Hill is Paul Craig, let’s see if we can set that fight up,’ that’s ideally a great situation.”
The Scotsman also believes that Hill is likely to have his hand raised at UFC 283, predicting a first-round knockout. With that said, he knows a return to the win column against Walker is vital for his hopes of becoming the first challenger to Hill’s reign.
“I believe it’s gonna end probably in the first round… via strikes (for Hill),” Craig stated. “Coming off my loss to Volk, I don’t think it’s a bad loss. I went three rounds with a guy who knocks people out… I believe had that fight gone the other way, it’s probably my name in that (title) mix… So that one fight has changed my path slightly. But, I do believe it’s set me on a better path. I believe a win over Johnny Walker puts my name back in that mix.”
As well as Craig’s desire to bring gold back to Scotland, Hill has previously appeared to show interest in running it back against “Bearjew,” insisting that he has what it takes to outgrapple the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.
With that said, the prospect of Hill vs. Craig 2 with the belt on the line post-UFC 283 isn’t outlandish should both men collect wins in Rio.
What position do you think Paul Craig will be in should both he and Jamahal Hill emerge victorious at UFC 283?
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