We’ve been informed of an incredibly exciting light-heavyweight bout going down on September 4, 2021, at UFC Fight Night 193, as No. 12 ranked Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig takes on former two-time title challenger Alexander ‘The Mauler’ Gustafsson.
This is such a great match up between two elite European talents.
Gustafsson, hailing from Sweden, is perhaps the greatest 205 lb fighter ever to have never won a belt, and Craig, hailing from Scotland, is as on-point as he’s ever been.
On the contrary, Gustafsson hasn’t been active much recently, and he doesn’t appear to be the same fighter he used to be. In his last outing, he made his heavyweight debut against former champion Fabricio Werdum after 14 months away from the cage, who submitted (armbar) him in round one.
This marked his third-straight defeat, and his third-straight defeat via finish.
Now, Gustafsson wants to move back down to light-heavyweight where he had all that success, and he’s got a real test in front of him. Craig is someone he could handily defeat, but he’s also someone he could just as handily lose to.
Gustafsson is a four-time amateur boxing champion, and even defeated a Swedish heavyweight champion in the process before making the switch to mixed martial arts.
Craig of course spent this time grappling, as well as an amateur mixed martial artist, where he went 8-0 with eight first-round submission finishes.
That’s incredibly impressive, especially considering amateur fights are only three-minute rounds, and he’s also 1-0 in kickboxing.
Just as he was a finisher in his amateur career, he’s stuck to those ways as a professional, finishing all 15 of his victories, 13 via submission. The only time he ever went to a decision, the fight ended in a draw, which he later avenged.
‘Bearjew’ came to the UFC with a perfect 8-0 record, following his captures of the FightStar & BAMMA light-heavyweight championships. After submitting (armbar) his opponent in his debut, he’d get knocked out in his next two outings.
Then came one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history, where he was out-wrestled by Magomed Ankalaev for three rounds. He pulled off the triangle choke finish with one second left on the clock, and he’s still to this day the only man to defeat Ankalaev.
Craig was then submitted by fellow BJJ black belt Jimmy Crute after a back-and-forth war, before he submitted (triangle choke) Kennedy Nzechukwu, this time with just 20 seconds left in the bout, before he was KO’d by Alonzo Menifield.
However, since this, Craig has gone unbeaten in his last five, going 4-0-1 in that time.
This showed him defeat the likes of Vinicius Moreira (rear naked choke), who he nearly knocked out, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (draw), Gadzhimurad Antigulov (triangle choke), ‘Shogun’ Rua (TKO), and Jamahal Hill (triangle armbar) in his last fight about a month ago.
After being submitted in his last fight, this is a very dangerous match up for Gustafsson. Though he isn’t the multi-time world BJJ champion that Fabricio Werdum is, he’s every but as dangerous offensively.
Craig is so fun to watch, because you know if it stays on the feet, you’re probably going to see a knockout. Not to mention, if it hits the mat, you’re going to see some real wizardry grappling.
This is a real tough match up to pick. The only man Craig has fought that’s on the level of Gustafsson is Ankalaev. He lost 14+ minutes of that fight, but was able to pull the victory out.
How does this epic light-heavyweight contest go down?
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I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I saw, and the fight that got me hooked on the sport. Since then, the sport has grown so rapidly, and my goal is to enlighten everyone on what’s going on in the sport today.