Paul Craig Taking Things Back To Basics With The Scottish Hit Squad Ahead Of UFC London
When you’re a fighter riding a two fight losing streak in the UFC, you know for certain your race is run in the organization with another loss and that’s exactly what’s on the mind of Scottish light heavyweight, Paul Craig.
After winning on his debut in Dec. 2016 against Henrique da Silva, Craig suffered back-to-back losses to Tyson Pedro in Khalil Rountree in 2017 and he now knows that he’s drinking in the last chance saloon at UFC Fight Night 127 in London when he faces undefeated Russian, Magomed Ankalaev.
Speaking to MMANytt.com earlier this week, Craig explained how he’s adapted his training since suffering the first losses of his career.
“Everyone who watches MMA will know that last year wasn’t my year,” Craig said. “I needed to go back to what got me to the UFC. It was almost like I was trying to add too many other things into my game and I neglected what I was truly strong at. After I fought in Sacramento, we came back and thought about how we could make everything and I think we just added a little too much. I was full time training and it was just, for some reason, it wasn’t working. The recipe wasn’t right.
“Now, coming back off the two losses it’s back to basics. I’m focusing on getting back to being the original Paul Craig. Back to grappling, back to high tempo and when I didn’t have any apprehension. We’ve got the best coaches in Scotland and the UK for MMA. We went to training centre over in Vegas and it’s incredible. I’ve been using that facility a bit, but here at the Scottish Hit Squad I’ve got everything I need.”
Ankalaev’s connections to Akhmat MMA and Ramzan Kadyrov haven’t gone unnoticed. The Russian’s usually travel in an intimidating group and there’s no shortage of investigative journalism online that get the alarm bells ringing. Regardless, Craig says he’s not at all concerned by it all and that none of that will be on his mind come fight night.
“You know what, it doesn’t matter,” Craig said. “When that cage shuts it’s just me and him. There’s nothing they can do to intimidate me or anything like that. We’re just two guys going in there to throw down.
“Sure, I’ve seen some of the stuff that’s come out. I think the thing I saw was that he was talking about how there’s no gays in Chechnya because they’re all real men or something like that. It’s crazy that he’s saying it. In this day and age it’s just barbaric crazy stuff.”
Going back to his roots is where Craig believes success will lie and he’s well aware of what is on the line for him come March 17. With a young family to support and a goal in mind, the Scotsman is more motivated than ever to get his hand raised at the London 02 Arena.
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“I believe my grappling is going to win this for me,” Craig said. “We’re going back to my submissions and I’m going to stop him and get that performance bonus. That’s what I’m going there for. I’m going to get in, get out and it’s St Paddy’s day in London as well.
“The whole thing for me is working towards providing for my daughters. The only thing I do with the money… I just want to treat my girls. They’ve been through a lot with me and I don’t see them as much as I should when I’m preparing for fights like I am now.
“I want this to pay for me to take my daughters away to Disney Land. I want that bonus just to treat them. That’s the ideal situation.”