UFC London: Paul Craig to make middleweight debut against Andre Muniz at O2 Arena
PAUL CRAIG will be back in the octagon this summer – but he’ll be competing in a new weight class.
The light-heavyweight standout will return to action at UFC on ESPN 49 in London on July 22 – but as a middleweight.
Paul Craig will be back in action at UFC LondonGETTY
But the long-time light-heavyweight will be dropping down to the middleweightGETTY
GETTYThe Bearjew will lock horns with fellow grappler Andre Muniz[/caption]
And the Scottish submission specialist has been thrown straight into the fire in the stacked 185lb division.
The beloved Bearjew will lock horns with fellow submission ace Andre Muniz in what promises to be a dream match-up for grappling fans.
Former BAMMA light-heavyweight champion Craig makes the drop to middleweight after nearly seven years tangling with the 205lb division’s hard hitters.
He leaves behind a lofty ninth spot in the light-heavyweight rankings – which he earned with a run of four wins and two defeats in his last six octagon outings.
But he’ll be a shoo-in to crack the middleweight rankings should he get past the No.15-ranked Muniz.
Like Craig, Muniz will look to return to the win column following a submission defeat to Brendan Allen in February.
The Brazilian rattled off five wins in a row prior to that loss – a streak in which he SNAPPED jiu-jitsu ace Jacare Souza’s right arm in half.
Craig, 35, revealed his intention to dip his toes into the middleweight pool earlier this month.
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During a recent episode of his Leathered podcast, he said: “There’s not a lot of fights above me who I’m going to get to fight.
“So I’m like, ‘Right, maybe there’s an opportunity at middleweight.’”
And the Airdrie Assassin believes he’ll have a marked advantage over his new divisional rivals when it comes to grappling.
He said: “I’m just a jiu-jitsu guy fighting MMA. Size is gonna be a huge factor, as well.
Paul Craig will be hoping to make a splash at middleweight this summerGETTY
“When you look at the champ, Israel Adesanya, he’s not got a lot of jiu-jitsu.
“I’m not saying he doesn’t have any, but if you’re a jiu-jitsu guy, that’s how you’re weighing this up.
“How many guys in that top 15 have elite-level jiu-jitsu?”
The UFC’s return to London will be headlined by a heavyweight showdown between British heavyweight prospect Tom Aspinall and veteran Marcin Tybura.