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Paul Craig reveals fight night weight at UFC London: ‘That’s heavier than what I was fighting Johnny Walker’

Paul Craig has had a solid year at middleweight, but he hasn’t quite closed the door on 205 pounds yet.

Craig made his middleweight debut on Saturday night, defeating Andre Muniz in a second round at UFC London. The win snapped “Bearjew”‘s two-game losing streak and made him a direct contender at 185 pounds, which according to Craig, was a long shot down to middleweight.

“As a light heavyweight, we’ve been thinking, ‘Can we hit middleweight? Is this achievable?'” Craig said Monday. MMA time. “What we did was, we tested. We made sure we could lean all the way down, and it worked. It was an adventure in the last six months of my career, going from getting knocked out to rebuilding myself, now not just at light heavyweight, but at middleweight.”

A UFC fighter since 2016, Craig has fought at 205 pounds his entire career with mixed results. Although Craig currently has victories against a number of UFC top 15 fighters at light heavyweight, including former champion Jamaha Hill and former title challenger Magomed Ankarayev, Craig has suffered some bitter defeats, including a first-round knockout loss to Johnny Walker in January, which Craig said led to his relegation.

“We went to (UFC) PI because when I went through Johnny Walker’s octagon, I looked at him and thought, ‘Wow, he’s a sample, isn’t he?'” Craig said. “He’s a natural weirdo. He’s an anomaly at this level because he’s really, really tall, athletic, and he hits like a train. So we had to reevaluate where we were at light heavyweight, and one of the things we said was let’s see if we could do middleweight. We went to PI and they did all the testing — they found that yes, we could make middleweight and it would be safe.”

Craig said he and his team tested at middleweight after consulting with the UFC Performance Institute. Once things are going well, all systems go down. After working with UFC PI and nailing down his weight, Craig revealed that his new approach had an unexpected benefit: he was actually bigger than when he entered the fight at 205 pounds.

“I was really, really skinny,” Craig said. “My cheekbones, you can sprinkle grated cheese on these things, but after a few hours, your body can do amazing things. After drinking a few liters of water, following the science with the backing of a PI…Since then, Saturday night we were a different animal, we rebounded farther than the light heavyweights. That’s heavier than when I was fighting Johnny Walker. I think I was 95kg (209 lbs). So you can see the benefits of that.

“It’s probably not the best thing to do at 35, but you can understand why athletes do it, why men make such huge cuts, because it’s a huge advantage and it showed on Saturday.”

Despite the fact that he’s lost a lot of weight and looks as good as he does in the new heavyweight division, Craig insists he’s not giving up light heavyweight just yet.

“While a huge 185, I still had a win over Jamahal Hill and Ankalaev, as well as Nikita Krylov,” Craig said. “There are some really, really tough names in this division. I can still hang out with these guys. The big thing about this game is not only that it got to 185, which is positive for me, but also that I now have a coach who is really good at hitting. So he passed that knowledge on to me, and that’s why Paul is a better version of himself. What happens to hit and knockdown skills?

“The reason the knockout on Andre Muniz worked so well is because I was able to set it up with the hits, not blind shots. That’s why I don’t think 205 is done, because if I can coach with James Duran for six months at 185, what can we do with James Duran for a year, coach with James Duran for two years?”

So, for now, Craig plans to be a dual threat fighter for the UFC. Craig is likely to end up weighing 185 pounds after his win over Muniz, and he remains No. 9 in the light heavyweight rankings, meaning he has no shortage of possible fights ahead.

Craig is open to competition at either level, as long as they meet one of his criteria.

“It’s up to the UFC,” Craig said. “If the UFC comes to me and says, ‘Paul, we have a really good fight for you at 205,’ I don’t care when I say a really good fight, ‘We have an easy fight for you.'” That’s not what I mean. I’m not interested in easy fights. I’m interested in the horrible fights, the ones that make you wake up in the middle of the night and question if you’re doing enough. They are the fights I want. ”

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