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Paul Craig vs. Johnny Walker full fight preview | UFC 283

UFC Fight Night London - The 02 Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight finishers Paul Craig and Johnny Walker will throw down this weekend (Sat., Jan. 21, 2023) at UFC 283 inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Craig is an interesting fighter. His strengths and weaknesses are apparent to just about everyone at this point, yet Craig actually went on the best run of his career in the last three years to break into the Top 10. A loss last time out to Volkan Oezdemir shut down any further momentum, but Craig remains the ultimate 205-pound trap fight.

After all, it wasn’t all that long ago he destroyed half of the main event’s arm (watch highlights).

Meanwhile, Walker’s results have been more inconsistent. The Brazilian wild man has tried to slow down his all-action style, but that hasn’t necessarily produced more wins or fewer knockout losses. Still, he enters off a victory here, and this weekend is a chance to break into the Top 10.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

LIVE! Watch UFC 283 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

UFC’s 2023 PPV DEBUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off its New Year pay-per-view (PPV) campaign on Sat., Jan. 21, 2023, with a battle for the vacant Light Heavyweight crown between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Glover Teixeira, looking to stop the momentum of surging No. 7-seeded up-and-comer, Jamahal Hill. In the co-main event of UFC 283, which will take place inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the greatest rivalries in promotional history resumes as Flyweight kingpin, Deiveson Figueiredo, battles interim belt keeper, Brandon Moreno, for a fourth (and likely final) time.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Paul Craig

Record: 16-5 (1)
Key Wins: Magomed Ankalaev (UFC Fight Night 127), Jamahal Hill (UFC 263), Nikita Krylov (UFC London), Mauricio Rua (UFC 255)
Key Losses: Volkan Oezdemir (UFC London 2), Khalil Rountree (UFC Fight Night 113), Tyson Pedro (UFC 209), Alonzo Menifield (UFC on ESPN 3)
Keys to Victory: Craig might be the most dangerous bottom grappler in the UFC. He’s certainly the only man I can think of who pulls guard and still finds consistent success, even if he occasionally gets pulverized en route to the submission.

As with most Craig fights, confidence is key. Craig isn’t a technical striker, but he’s tall, long, and hits hard enough to be a threat. He does so, so much better when he charges forward with ugly flurries and awkward kicks. Walker is not a brilliant defensive technician by any means; Craig can certainly threaten him on the feet.

If Walker is forced to react to Craig’s punches, the chances of scoring a takedown improve dramatically. Even the shot still fails, forcing an ugly fight is key. Walker has slowed down previously, and few are better at drawing tired opponents into submissions.


Johnny Walker

Record: 19-7
Key Wins: Misha Cirkunov (UFC 235), Ryan Spann (UFC Vegas 11), Khalil Rountree Jr (UFC Fight Night 140), Ion Cutelaba (UFC 279)
Key Losses: Jamahal Hill (UFC Vegas 48), Corey Anderson (UFC 244), Nikita Krylov (UFC Fight Night 170), Thiago Santos (UFC Vegas 38)
Keys to Victory: Walker is massive for the division, and he uses his combination of speed and range to land wild and powerful strikes. Lately, he’s been working more to establish consistent distance offense rather than count on unpredictability ... with mixed results.

I don’t know that Walker can win this fight with passivity. Again, Craig’s confidence and aggression directly relates to his success. Walker can take advantage of that as well, namely by cracking Craig with a good shot early and convincing the Scottish athlete that he cannot hang on the feet.

When Craig loses confidence, he tends to get desperate, tired, and pull guard. I’m not suggesting Walker play around in Craig’s guard too much, but he’s a quality grappler himself. So long as he’s controlling the flow of the exchanges standing and remains cautious on the canvas, the path for a clean victory very much exists.


Bottom Line

A spot in the Top 10 is on the line.

Craig fights have three potential outcomes: he wins violently, loses violently, or it’s an absolute stinker. For the most part, his rise up the Light Heavyweight ladder has been fun! It does feel, however, as if Craig has reached his ceiling. He seemingly has the ability to win or lose to just about any Top 15 Light Heavyweight, but reaching the belt feels unlikely because of that fact too.

He’s a dangerous challenge to much of the division, title aspirations or not.

At one point, Walker looked like the future of Light Heavyweight. Then, he was struggling to avoid getting released. Nowadays, he’s somewhere in the middle, simultaneously on the verge of breaking into the Top 10 and exiting the rankings entirely. The Brazilian desperately needs consistency, and victory here could begin the first win streak since the genesis of his UFC career.

It’s a start.

At UFC 283, Paul Craig and Johnny Walker will face off. Which man will earn the victory?


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 283 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 283: “Teixeira vs. Hill” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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