“Seripano” was considered one of the best jiu-jitsu specialists in the UFC middleweight division after tapping the likes of Ronaldo Souza and Eryk Anders in 2021, but suffered his first octagon defeat via submission to Brendan Allen earlier this year. Muniz now welcomes Craig to the 185-pound class aiming “to not only get back to the winning track, but also show I’m alive in the division and marching strongly towards my goals.”
“The lesson [against Allen] is that you can never not believe in your opponents, even in areas you have control,” Muniz said on this week’s Trocação Franca. “And this next fight, no doubt, we know how dangerous Paul Craig is on the ground with closed guard, open guard. Even though I have good jiu-jitsu, good know-how in grappling, I can’t not believe in the possibilities coming from my opponent at any moment.”
The list of victims on Craig’s light heavyweight résumé is long, and includes former UFC champion Jamahal Hill. The Scottish talent has also submitted Nikita Krylov and Magomed Ankalaev, and used effective ground skills to dominate Mauricio Rua on the mat, forcing the former UFC and PRIDE veteran to tap to strikes.
“Numbers speak for themselves,” Muniz said of Craig’s credentials. “He’s an excellent grappler, an excellent fighter on the ground, who does guard like no other in the [light heavyweight] division.
“We’ve studied his attacks and prepared some defense, some counters to use in case the fight goes to the ground, but not forgetting our strong point, which is grappling. If he can submit me, I can definitely submit him too. It’s all about the moment. Whoever has the best moment and can make the most of it will come out victorious on Saturday.”
Given Craig’s accomplishments at 205 pounds — and the fact that top-ranked names like Alex Pereira and Kelvin Gastelum are moving to different divisions — “Sergipano” hopes to be ranked in the top 10 of the UFC middleweight class with a victory Saturday.
To help his case, Muniz promises an exciting battle at The O2 Arena.
“I always prepare for a war because if you imagine an easy fight, a quick fight, you’ll get frustrated along the way, and that could be really bad,” Muniz said. “I’m prepared for a war. If we can manage to end it quickly, I thank God for that. If not, let’s go put on a war and give the fans in London a great show.”