MMA Hall of Famer Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (27-11, 21 KOs, 1 SUB) will meet Paul "Bear Jew" Craig (13-4, 1 KO, 12 SUBs) at UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez on Saturday, November 21, 2020 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card airs live on pay-per-view starting 10pm ET. In the main event, flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1, 9 KOs, 7 SUBs) will defend the 125-pound title against Alex Perez (24-5, 5 KOs, 7 SUBs). Let’s take a closer look at the light heavyweight matchup between Rua and Craig and break down your best online betting options.
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Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (27-11, 21 KOs, 1 SUB)
For most longtime MMA fans (myself included), it would have been nice to see Shogun Rua retire a few years ago. The Brazilian is a first ballot Hall of Famer, a former Pride and UFC champion and a living legend. There’s nothing left for him to prove, but at 38 years old he just keeps trucking on. And somehow, despite looking like a shell of his former self, Shogun manages to keep winning. In his past seven fights, Shogun has five wins, one loss and one split draw. This Saturday, he’ll try to amend that draw when he runs it back against Paul Craig.
Much of the reason Rua has been able to stay relevant is Sean Shelby downgrading his competition. Life gets much, much easier when facing Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Tyson Pedro and Gian Villante. The problem is even in victory, Shogun just doesn’t look great. His cardio has been suspect the minute he came into the UFC in 2007 and gassed out against Forrest Griffin. The once crisp killer is now a plodder who gets into sloppy exchanges and guts out ugly wins. We can’t deny that it’s enough to get past mid-level light heavyweights, but it’s tough watching him squeak by dudes he would’ve murdered before and take a good amount of damage doing it.
That’s not to say he’s toothless tiger: power is the last thing to go, and Shogun can still land bombs. But his days of swarming helpless opponents with a hellstorm of Muay Thai flurries are over.
Paul "Bear Jew" Craig (13-4, 1 KO, 12 SUBs)
Craig has a 100% finishing rate, as all 13 of his pro wins have come by stoppage. All but of those stoppages came by submission, making him a true specialist on the mat. There aren’t very many submission specialists at 205, which makes Craig somewhat difficult to prepare for. He has a knack of scoring come-from-behind wins, as we saw in his massive last-second upset of Magomed Ankalaev and Kennedy Nzechukwu. It’s completely unsustainable, but it does speak to just how dangerous Craig can be when he sees an opportunity and locks in.
There is also the fact that Craig is a much younger 32 years old. The 6-year age gap might not seem like much, the Scot has far less overall miles on the odometer. That’ll make him fresher and more durable inside the cage than his opponent. He’s also a big 205-pounder, filling out his 6'4" frame and demonstrating solid strength in grappling exchanges. While Rua is probably the stronger man, Craig will have more energy late in the fight.
Significant Striking Stats
Significant strikes landed per minute: Rua 3.51 / Craig 1.91
Striking accuracy: Rua 52% / Craig 45%
Strikes absorbed per minute: Rua 4.13 / Craig 2.82
Striking defense: Rua 55% / Craig 45%
Takedowns per 15 minutes: Rua 1.74 / Craig 1.74
Takedown accuracy: Rua 42% / Craig 19%
Takedown defense: Rua 46% / Craig 50%
Submissions per 15 minutes: Rua 0.29 / Craig 1.49
Their first fight was kind of a weird one: Craig started off strong and clearly took control of the fight. Then it seemed as if he let his foot off the gas, giving Shogun the opportunity to pull even. The third round was close, but one got the sense that just even slightly more effort from Craig would’ve been good enough to take the win. We don’t think anything has changed since then, except that both guys are older and Rua will have nothing new to offer. This is an easy pick at a decent price.
UFC 255: Figueiredo vs. Perez Card & Odds
Flyweight Title - Alex Perez +235 vs. Deiveson Figueiredo -293
Women's Flyweight Title - Jennifer Maia +812 vs. Valentina Shevchenko -1500
Flyweight - Brandon Royval +154 vs. Brandon Moreno -186
Light Heavyweight - Mauricio Rua +147 vs. Paul Craig -176
Women Flyweight - Katlyn Chookagian +207 vs. Cynthia Calvillo -255
Welterweight - Tim Means +123 vs. Mike Perry -147
Middleweight - Jordan Wright +210 vs. Joaquin Buckley -259
Welterweight - Jared Gooden +118 vs. Alan Jouban -142
Middleweight - Dustin Stoltzfus +243 vs. Kyle Daukaus -303
Women's Flyweight - Ariane Lipski +130 vs. Antonina Shevchenko -157
Welterweight - Sasha Palatnikov +300 vs. Louis Cosce -386
Welterweight - Nicolas Dalby +243 vs. Daniel Rodriguez -303
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