He was only a fan that night time, albeit one with a 6-zero professional MMA report and excessive hopes of at some point being within the Octagon and never outdoors it.
“I believed I used to be prepared for the UFC,” he stated. “In all equity I in all probability wasn’t (Laughs), however to see Robert Whiteford stroll out, the place erupted. Everyone was on their ft, shouting and screaming. This was the primary time the UFC had ever been in Scotland, it was an enormous occasion, and for MMA followers in Scotland who had by no means ever been to a UFC, it was big.”
By the point Monday rolled round, Craig was again within the fitness center and when he talked concerning the earlier weekend’s occasion together with his coach Brian Gallacher, they got here to a fast and easy conclusion.
“I checked out Brian and we stated, ‘We have to be right here.’”
Now they’re. Craig made his UFC debut final December, submitting Henrique da Silva and choosing up Efficiency of the Night time honors within the course of. He would lose his second Octagon bout to Tyson Pedro in March, however for his third look this Sunday, he’ll get to face Khalil Rountree Jr. in Glasgow. It’s not only a full circle factor for the 29-yr-previous mild heavyweight from Coatbridge. It’s a lot greater than that.
“Scottish individuals, we’re warriors,” he stated. “We come from warrior inventory. It’s in our blood. We don’t get the most effective climate on the planet, we have now rain, we’ve got wind. We battle from the minute we come from the womb, and when any person comes into your soil – and it means Khalil Rountree – and he’s making an attempt to take one thing that’s mine, he’s making an attempt to beat a Scotsman on his house turf, that’s a tough man to beat. It’s a way of satisfaction, it’s a way of affection that the Scottish individuals have for his or her nation. It’s a spot inside our coronary heart.”
Scotland might be properly represented on Sunday, with Joanne Calderwood, Stevie Ray and Danny Henry becoming a member of Craig on the cardboard. For all of them, it’s a reminder of what it took to get right here and the way dwelling in a spot that isn’t america or Brazil could make it harder in terms of making it to the large present. However as soon as they get right here, it’s going to take quite a bit to get them to go away.
“Exhausting work and sacrifice acquired me to the UFC, and it’s what’s gonna prevail to maintain me within the UFC and maintain me profitable within the UFC,” Craig stated. “You hear individuals saying I sacrificed this and I sacrificed that, and yeah, all of us sacrifice stuff to get right here, however I sacrificed greater than the typical man. Within the health club, we are saying onerous work beats expertise when expertise doesn’t work arduous.”
Fortunately for Craig, he’s obtained expertise and a strong work ethic, making him a harmful man within the Octagon. And yeah, typically there are setbacks, like his loss to Pedro, however that’s not going to maintain him from chasing a world championship at 205 kilos.
“If I dwelled on that (loss) and stored dwelling, I by no means would have moved on and received prepared for my subsequent battle,” he stated. “I might by no means have gotten over that loss. However my subsequent battle, I’m within the UFC. My subsequent struggle, I’m preventing in Scotland within the UFC. So I’m all the time wanting on the brighter aspect of life, and particularly in a spot the place it rains for a lot of the day, you could take a look at the brighter aspect of life.”
It’s a lesson he discovered from an unlikely supply, however Craig can most definitely relate to a fictional fighter named Rocky Balboa. Declaring, “There are not any dangerous Rockys,” relating to the beloved movie collection, Craig needed to be the Philadelphia slugger as a child, and whereas he went to MMA and never boxing, he nonetheless took inspiration that he retains with him to today.
“Everyone, regardless of who you’re, we’ve all had our ups and downs, and he had this one probability to make it,” Craig stated. “After which he doesn’t even win, as a result of not everyone wins at life, however he’s nonetheless swinging.”
Paul Craig continues to be swinging as nicely. So how does his Rocky film finish?
“It ends just about like Rocky,” he stated. “He continually goes again and fights and fights and fights and he by no means gave up.”