There were no winners at the UFC Sao Paulo, as the Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Paul Craig fight ended in a split draw.
Craig started out strong and it seemed that Brazilian would be put away early, but Rua powered back and more or less dominated rounds two and three. The first round ended with a razor close call, reflected in the judges’ scorecards.
However, both fighters were caught off guard when the final word came through. “I clearly knew that I lost the first round and won the second and third,” Rua said post-fight. “My corner oriented me on the same thing and I was conscious of that. Everyone that I talked to after the fight said the same thing including people from the UFC, judges, matchmakers.
“So I really didn’t understand the criteria that the judges used to get the victory. It’s something that’s not in our control and it happens.”
Craig reacted with just as much shock because he too believed he had done enough damage to leave Brazil with an upset victory.
“You know straight after the fight I was very disappointed but after I had time to reflect on it, and to come to Brazil, and fight a legend that is Rua in his home country and get a draw, it’s a good result for me,” Craig said. “That’s what I did on two weeks’ notice with a cut above my eye.
“We were very unfortunate when we started this camp, we literally signed the contract at the start of the week and by Friday we had a serious cut above our eye. Five stitches later, we couldn’t do any sparring, couldn’t do any wrestling. Everything we did during that fight camp was around skill-based exercises.”
To make up for this disappointment, Craig and Rua are both advocating for an immediate rematch.
“The next step is there’s rumors that UFC Glasgow’s going to happen. That would be in my hometown,” Craig said while inviting Rua to a face-off on his home ground in Scotland. “If I did that in a two-week fight camp, what could I do in an eight-week fight camp?
“Is there any opportunity to face Shogun Rua again? Only he’d be able to tell you that because I would take that fight in a heartbeat. Seeing how his face looked after the fight, I can’t see him accepting that fight.”
To this Shogun shot back: “He’s already been talking about a rematch. I don’t know where. I’ll accept it. I think we deserve a rematch for this fight. I don’t think this was resolved. With all due respect to him, he’s a great athlete and that’s it,”.
Responding to how he feels about taking on Craig in his own home country, Shogun didn’t blink before happily accepting that challenge.
“For sure. We’ve just got to look at dates but if my team says OK, I’ll definitely go out there,” Rua said.