Paul Craig predicts Israel Adesanya vs Jan Blachowicz, reveals why Jon Jones leaving has made the division ‘so much better’, and backs Scotland for success at Euro 2020

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Paul Craig believes Israel Adesanya could struggle against Jan Blachowicz if he decides to move up to light-heavyweight and challenge for the title.

The current middleweight champion defeated number one contender Paulo Costa with consummate ease on Fight Island in September.

Israel Adesanya is targeting a second world title belt against Jan Blachowicz

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Israel Adesanya is targeting a second world title belt against Jan Blachowicz

With preferred opponent Jared Cannonier failing to get past Robert Whittaker, Adesanya seems genuinely deprived of top contenders at 185lbs.

As seems to be the case for many world champions, moving up in weight and claiming a second belt is something ‘The Last Stylebender’ is keen to do.

However Craig, who harbours world title ambitions himself, believes the move up to 205lbs may not work in his favour.

He told talkSPORT.com: “We’ve seen guys move up through the divisions to move up to light-heavyweight and it worked out for people like Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos.

Adesanya knocked out Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title

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Adesanya knocked out Paulo Costa to retain his middleweight title

“But it didn’t work out for Luke Rockhold and it didn’t work out for Chris Weidman who were champions. So I think sometimes having that extra weight and having the structure to have the muscle that Jan has, because he is a big guy, I don’t think is a favourable fight for Izzy.

“He’s never really been tested with regards to shots and I think if Jan can’t land big, heavy shots on him, he’s just going to take him down and grind him out that way.

“So it’s an interesting fight, but that’s what makes it an entertaining division!”

The ‘Bearjew’ will face former world champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua this evening at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas in a rematch of their classic bout a year ago.

Paul Craig wants to retire Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua by beating him in their rematch

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Paul Craig wants to retire Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua by beating him in their rematch

Although the former school teacher was in danger of losing his place in the UFC two-and-a-half years ago in London, he knows a win over UFC legend Rua could propel him into title contention.

“Looking at the division now, it’s wide open,” Craig added. “You’ve got Jan [Blachowicz] in that number one position, but the division is open man.

“I think everybody has got an opportunity to capitalise on this and it makes the light-heavyweight division even more exciting.

“Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight has made this division so much better because he’s not clutching at that title any more and it just means there are more people trying to get to it now.”

Watch incredible moment UFC superstar Jon Jones chases away home intruder with a loaded shotgun

As well as teaching, Craig was a football coach and was delighted to see the Tartan Army reach Euro 2020, their first major tournament this Millennium.

And with the popular anthem ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ set to be his walkout song, Craig is hoping to make 2021 a special year for Scottish sport.

He concluded: “That inspires a nation! We are renowned for not being the greatest in sport, our last major competition was France in 1998.

“Maybe, next year we see Paul Craig ‘UFC Champion’ and Scotland European champions? We’ve seen WWE star Drew McIntyre get the belt. So who knows, maybe Scotland is just going to be the place where sport is happening?”





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