Craig is right, with the departure of Jon Jones and the recent ascension to the throne by Jan Blachowicz, the window of opportunity in the light heavyweight division is as open as it’s ever been.
“BearJew” believes that he’s truly leveled up over the last year and that the work he’s put in could propel him to contender status. That rise starts by settling the score with Shogun.
“I believe that in a year a lot can change, like myself. My conditioning is totally changed, my striking ability has changed, my skill set on the ground has leveled up again,” Craig said. “Whereas, do I think that Shogun has leveled up in all these areas? He possibly could, but I don’t feel that he’s done that. I don’t feel he’s as hungry as me and I don’t feel that he’s got the determination that I’ve got at this precise moment in life.”
Craig has shown that determination in his past fights, securing submissions late in the third round of fights. Twelve of his 13 victories have come by submission and he sees the rematch with Shogun as a shot to accomplish one of his long-time goals – submitting an icon of the sport.
“When I started in the UFC I set my targets, and one of the things was I wanted to see how good my jiu-jitsu was, and I made up this goal in my head that I wanted to submit a Brazilian legend,” Craig said. “Although I wasn’t close in that previous [with Shogun], I believe that knowing what he’s like through our last bout, I believe I can get that submission.”