Rua (26-11-1 MMA, 10-9-1 UFC), the former UFC light heavyweight champion, relied on his ground game against Craig (12-4-1 MMA, 4-4-1 UFC), who did some good work of his own on the feet.
Each of two judges thought both fighters deserved a win, but the deciding one scored it a draw, rendering no winner in the light heavyweight bout at Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo. It was a split draw.
Craig came out of the gate hard, attacking with spinning back kicks and throwing heavy punches. Rua weathered the early storm and forced his way inside the clinch, pushing Craig against the fence. They worked from there, reversing position until breaking into open space. Craig cornered Rua against the fence and unleashed a flurry that included some hard shots that forced Rua to cover up. He avoided the stoppage, though, and escaped the position before putting the pressure on Craig and landing some good punches in the final minute of the round.
The second round began with some relatively even striking exchanges. Both men connected with some decent shots, but Craig had the noticeable speed advantage. About 90 seconds into the round, Rua completed a takedown. Once he got top position, the Brazilian opened up with some good ground-and-pound. Craig tried to defend and lull his opponent into a submission, but Rua was privy to all his attempts and landed some strong blows from on top. Rua couldn’t put Craig in danger of a finish, but controlled the rest of the round.
With the fight seemingly up for grabs going into the final frame, both men came out eager to impose their game. Craig used his range to land some good punches, but he made a big error with a sloppy takedown attempt that resulted with him on bottom. Rua went back to the same strategy as the second frame, working from inside the guard before standing up and diving back in big punches. Craig managed to get up to his feet and get a takedown of his own in the final 15 seconds but couldn’t do anything meaningful with it.
It came down to the wire, and the scores were 29-28 Rua, 29-28 Craig and 28-28 for the split draw result.
“I thought I had won the last few rounds,” Rua said through an interpreter during his post-fight interview. “But I left it to the judges.”
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN+ 22 results include:
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
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