UFC: Paul Craig 'sorry' after draw with Mauricio Rua

Paul Craig in the second round of his fight with Mauricio Rua
Paul Craig had to settle for a draw with Brazilian Mauricio Rua in Sao Paulo

A dejected Paul Craig apologised after falling short of what would have been the biggest win of his UFC career as he settled for a draw with Mauricio Rua.

Craig dominated the opening round against the former light heavyweight champion in front of the Brazilian's home fans in Sao Paulo.

But, after three rounds, two judges scored the contest 29-28 to each man, with a third calling it 28-28.

"I wish I had done better," said Scotsman Craig.

"A draw is not good enough. I was coming here to retire him. I'm sorry guys."

It was the first draw of Craig's UFC career, having previously won four of his eight fights on the promotion.

The 31-year-old Coatbridge fighter, fresh from victory over Vinicius Moreira in September, had taken the fight on just two weeks notice as a replacement for Sam Alvey after the American suffered a broken hand.

All of his UFC wins had come by submission, but the Coatbridge fighter surprised many in the opening five minutes with an impressive stand-up game against Rua that brought him close to a stunning knockout of the 37-year-old, 38-fight veteran.

A roundhouse kick rocked the home favourite. Then Craig began to tee off Rua with a series of heavy punches. The Brazilian legend was getting beaten up in front of his home support and, as he struggled through the round, it looked like Craig needed just a little more pressure to finish the fight.

However, in the second round, Craig landed himself in trouble when he attempted to take Rua to the floor but then lost grip, leaving himself open to a series of hammer punches that turned the fight in Rua's favour.

Craig survived, but in the third, the fight again went to the floor, with the Scot appearing content to let his opponent have top mount. He defended Rua's strikes well enough but could not lock in a submission hold.

The Scot leapt to his feet late on and managed a takedown against a tiring Rua, but with just seconds left, he had little time to work and the fight was settled on the judges scorecard.

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