Paul Craig fears Israel Adesanya could seriously struggle against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 and reveals why Jon Jones leaving has made the division ‘so much better’
Paul Craig believes Israel Adesanya could struggle against Jan Blachowicz after deciding to move up to light-heavyweight to pursue a second UFC title.
The current middleweight champion defeated number one contender Paulo Costa with consummate ease on Fight Island in September.
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 aiming to do on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
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.
“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’ defeated Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas in a rematch of their classic bout a year ago.
Although the former school teacher was in danger of losing his place in the UFC two-and-a-half years ago in London, he told talkSPORT before the fight that 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.”
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?”