By PRIDE rules, light heavyweight Paul Craig beat Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. By the Unified Rules, their three-fight co-headliner at UFC Sao Paulo was a wash.
After a cracking first round in which Craig put Rua in deep danger, Rua controlled Craig for the majority of the latter two frames, resulting in split scorecards that could provide future training material for judges.
One judge had it 29-28 for Rua, while a second scored it 29-28 for Craig. A third judge gave a 28-28 score, resulting in a split draw – and a deeply disappointed crowd at Ginasio do Ibirapuera.
The Brazilian fans went nuts after Rua survived a barrage of punches from Craig, who carried an obvious speed advantage and no early doubts about his abilities. They went crazy as the former UFC champ leapt into Craig’s guard with punches straight out of his PRIDE glory days. But in the end, there was very little decisive action from Rua in top position.
The most decisive exchanges came in the beginning, when Craig backed up his foe and tagged him, and at the end, when Craig tried to erase almost two rounds on his back and came out swinging. Rua met the Scot with several hard shots to the jaw, though he got slammed to the mat as time expired.
According to stats provided by the UFC, Rua spent nearly seven minutes in top position. But he landed 32 significant strikes to Craig’s 51. Positional dominance ran straight against physical damage.
That story was seen in Rua’s face, which was red and swollen after three rounds. But the ex-champ will live to fight another day with the draw, his and his opponent’s first. Craig, who stepped in on short notice for an injured Sam Alvey, goes back to the drawing board after hopping between wins and losses on his past four outings.