Paul Craig celebrating his win over Nikita Krylov at UFC London. | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Craig wants to test himself against Smith, who has already accepted the challenge.
Who has the better grappling between Paul Craig and Anthony Smith? The ‘Bearjew’ would love to fight ‘Lionheart’ to find out.
On the preliminary portion of UFC London on Saturday night, Craig survived an early onslaught from Nikita Krylov and submitted him with a slick triangle choke in the first round. During his post-fight interview with Michael Bisping, the 34-year-old challenged Anthony Smith to a fight in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Glasgow? June? Anthony Smith? Five rounds? You fancy it? Let’s make it happen, UFC!,” said Craig.
Smith responded to Craig on Twitter and accepted his challenge. The 33-year-old has recently been called out by several names at the top of the light heavyweight division, so he was fine with one more.
Ankalaev, Craig…whoever. The answer is yes. Always yes. It’s not me that you have to convince. https://t.co/ZKVORcrUBt
— Anthony Smith (@lionheartasmith) March 19, 2022
“[Magomed] Ankalaev, Craig…whoever,” wrote Smith. The answer is yes. Always yes. It’s not me that you have to convince.”
In his post-fight press conference, Craig explained why Smith would be a good opponent for his next appearance. A win over yet another higher-ranked opponent is enticing, but the chance to test his jiu-jitsu against someone like Smith is even better.
“Everybody in the top 10 has an outstanding jiu-jitsu game, and they have an outstanding striking game and wrestling game,” said Craig (h/t Alexander K. Lee of MMA Fighting). “You need to be all-around to be in this game. You can’t have one thing unless you’re the ‘Bearjew.’ All you need is that Bearjew-jitsu, and if you’ve got that, then you can go to the top and you can be the champ.
“Do I think Anthony Smith’s got good jiu-jitsu? Yes. Is it better than mine? I don’t think so,” continued Craig. “He’s not as hungry as me, and he’s not putting himself in danger to get submissions. I hunt for submissions. And in that fight there was times where people must have thought, ‘That’s a rear-naked choke’ — right, it wasn’t a rear-naked choke — ‘That triangle’s nearly in, awww!’ That’s what I do. It’s like telling a story. If the story I tell is I wake up in the morning and I go through my day and I wake up and I go to bed, that’s not a very exciting story. What I do is this [motions rising and falling]. That’s the sport. The sport is about entertainment and I believe I entertain people when I step into that Octagon.”