Craig (14-4-1 MMA, 5-5-1 UFC) used a wrestling-heavy game plan and eventually got “Shogun” (27-12-1 MMA, 11-10-1 UFC) in an inescapable back mount, where he reigned down shots until it was waved off at the 2:36 mark of Round 2.
The light heavyweight bout opened up the UFC 255 main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2/ESPN+.
Craig started the fight with a kick-heavy strategy. Rua bided his time to explode with big combinations, but his aggression led him right into Craig’s takedowns. Craig threatened with multiple submission attempts, but Rua managed to get a key reversal that gave him top control for the remainder of the round.
Rua connected with a big right hand in the opening stages of the second round. Craig didn’t like it, so he went back to the wrestling and got a takedown. Rua scrambled upright, but got taken back down to the mat in short order. Craig advanced position, and eventually made the Brazilian give up his back. He locked down the rear mount, then battered Rua into a submission from the punches.
“He’s a legend and we’ve seen that tonight,” Craig said in his post-fight interview. “I’m very glad for the win.”
With the victory, Craig gets resolution to his first encounter with Rua in November 2019, which ended in a split draw.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 255 results:
Paul Craig def. Shogun Rua via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:36
Brandon Moreno def. Brandon Royval via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:59
Joaquin Buckley def. Jordan Wright via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 0:18
Antonina Shevchenko def. Ariane Lipski via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:33
Nicolas Dalby def. Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Alan Jouban def. Jared Gooden via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Kyle Daukaus def. Dustin Stoltzfus via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Sasha Palatnikov def. Louis Cosce via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 2:27