Paul Craig doesn’t see himself very far from the UFC championship belt.
The light heavyweight contender believes he’s one or two good wins away from a title shot, depending on his performances and how some results at the top shake out.
Craig (16-5-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) returns to the octagon this Saturday on the main card of UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he takes on Johnny Walker (19-7 MMA, 5-4 UFC). At the top of the card, Jamahal Hill, a man he stopped in the summer of 2021, fights for the vacant light heavyweight title against Brazilian legend Glover Teixeira.
Craig is hoping that Hill takes home the win and the belt, so it can set up a potential rematch between the two, as he would then hold a win over the champion.
“I’ve got Jamahal Hill taking this victory because not only does it help my career, but I like Jamahal Hill as an athlete and an MMA fighter,” Craig told reporters at the UFC 283 media day on Wednesday. “I think he does wonders for the sport. He’s an exciting character, crazy power in his hands and that also leads to, and I’m not looking past Johnny Walker, but it leads to that opportunity to have a run back of that fight, and it gets me one step closer to the title.”
Craig is coming off a decision loss to Volkan Oezdemir in July. But prior to the defeat, the Scottish fighter was on a four-fight winning streak, and 5-0-1 in his past six bouts, with the draw coming against Mauricio Rua.
The title dream would get farther away if Craig were to lose to Walker on Saturday. The 35-year-old is well aware of that and that’s why he’s determined to not only beat Walker, but put on an impressive showing to better his chances of a title shot.
“I need to first and foremost do the business on Saturday against Johnny Walker,” Craig said. “It can’t just be a victory. It has to be a performance. It has to show the levels of my skill, the new acquired striking skills, and the lethal jiu-jitsu. I have to ensure I’m able to hang with a guy like Johnny Walker.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 283.