Paul “BearJew” Craig (16-4-1) has done it again ladies and gents. The Scottish light heavyweight fought this past weekend at UFC London where he pushed his win streak to 6 and has yet to lose since 2019. Craig is currently ranked #8 in the division and is setting himself up for a contender fight with the rest of the murderous row of fighters that are ranked above him.
Coming into this fight Paul was coming off a gruesome victory last summer, where he snapped Jamahal Hill’s arm in the 1st round. Since joining the UFC Craig has scored 8 victories and all of them by submission (of 16 career wins 14 are by submission). While the BJJ blackbelt may be taking limbs after every fight, I truly believe that his heart and durability are what makes him such a tenacious fighter. During his fight vs Nikita Krylov, Paul faced adversity that would break most men. He was rocked early on as well as getting hit with some fierce ground and pound that looked like it would be a quick night for the “Bearjew”, but much like his fight against Ankalaev, Paul threw up a hail mary triangle that surprised the fight gods themselves.
So what’s next for Craig? Where does he go from here? Well, as it stands these are the 7 fighters who are ahead of Craig. Numbers 7-1 goes as follows Dominick Reyes (12-3), Thiago Santos (22-10), Anthony Smith (36-16), Magomed Ankalaev (17-1), Aleksandar Rakic (14-2), Jiri Prochazka (26-3), Jan Błachowicz (28-9), Champ: Glover Teixeira (33-7). From this list, there are several matchups that are set to take place in the near future like champion Glover facing #2 ranked Jiri, #1 Blachowicz and # 3 Rakic are waiting a new time and place, #4 Ankalaev recently beat #6, Santos. Only Anthony Smith and Dominick Reyes are without a dance partner.
After his fight, Paul was very vocal that he would love to face Anthony Smith at a Glasgow. This fight makes sense for various reasons, for one Smith is on an impressive 3 fight wins streak stopping all 3 opponents in the 1st round. Considering Smith is ranked ahead of Craig at #5, this could potentially set up a title contender fight against the winners of any of the top 3. This fight would also be every grappler’s dream matchup as both fighters are BJJ experts, they are not only known to use their BJJ expertise to control their opponents but they are especially known for their finishes, as I previously mentioned Craig has 14 career submission wins, while Smith also has 14 of his own.
The only dark horse that could potentially get in the way of a Craig vs Smith fight is that of Magomed Ankalaev who Craig beat in the very last second of their fight in 2018. Magomed has not lost since his facing Craig in 2018 and is on an 8 fight win streak. The Dagestani fighter has evolved into a fighter that mauls his opponents and controls every aspect of his fights, so it would be very interesting to see him and Craig matched up once more considering they have both come a long way since their first meeting.
Regardless of what happens, I cant wait to see Paul scrap again. whether at the weigh-ins with his blue war paint screaming at the top of his lung, or in the cage showing the world his high level of BJJ and heart. The man is an entertainer inside and outside the cage,