Two undefeated light heavyweights will collide in the Featured Bout of the UFC 209 FIGHT PASS Prelims on March 4.
Scottish submission specialist Paul Craig, 9-0 in MMA, will match his unbeaten record against the equally promising 5-0 tally of Australian Tyson Pedro. The clash of hot prospects will top the FIGHT PASS portion of the event headlined by the UFC welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Craig and Pedro are two of the most promising up-and-coming talents at 205lbs, and have much in common: both are coming off Performances of the Night in their UFC debuts, neither fighter has ever been taken the distance and both are promising another early finish in this FIGHT PASS exclusive bout.
Sydney native Pedro has never been taken beyond the opening round, and promises another impressive showing in his second UFC outing.
“I always believed I belonged in the UFC and dreamed of fighting in Las Vegas,” he said. “I’m 25 years old but I’ve been doing martial arts for 18 years and people have been telling me ‘You are going to be a UFC fighter’ for years.
“I dreamed this my whole life, and fighting in Vegas is knocking another huge item off the bucket list. I’ve watched UFC fights from Vegas (on television) since I was a kid, now I’m fighting in the UFC on a big Vegas show.”
5-0 meets 9-0 in the #UFCFIGHTPASS Featured Bout at #UFC209! Who escapes with their perfect record intact @tyson_pedro_ or @PCraigmma?! pic.twitter.com/wNwhAVcmRJ
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) February 27, 2017
Despite having cornered training partner Jamie TeHuna several times during his run in the UFC, Pedro admitted he wasn’t fully prepared for the adrenaline dump of his own Octagon debut in Melbourne last November. The Aussie suffered an early knockdown vs Khalil Rountree before settling into his work and submitting the American in just four minutes of action.
He said: “It took me a few minutes, but it was just another fight for me. (At UFC 209) I’m going to focus on the opponent, because when you start making (the occasion) bigger in your mind that’s when the nerves start taking over.”
Pedro joins two other Australia’s on the exciting UFC 209 card. Sydney-based Samoan Mark Hunt rematches with Alistair Overeem at heavyweight and Melbourne-born Olympian Dan Kelly will welcome Rashad Evans to the middleweight division.
Ask for a prediction for the UFC FIGHT PASS Featured Bout on March 4, Pedro said: “I want to finish him in the first round. I go for finishes, I don’t want to leave any fight in the hands of the judges. I’ve had five first round finishes in my career, and I’m looking forward to keeping that going in Las Vegas.”
Scotsman Craig doesn’t see that happening, though. The 6ft 4inch from the outskirts of Glasgow has stopped all 12 opponents, amateur and pro, since beginning his MMA career in the summer of 2012. Craig has finished 10 foes inside the opening round, and all but one of his victories came via submission.
“I got into this sport to try something different. I’ve not put any pressure on myself to achieve - that just kinda happened – but I’m looking to get up the rankings, beat everyone ahead of me and make a name for myself. I want to go as high as possible.”
A win on the FIGHT PASS Featured Bout over another opponent riding high expectations would add to the tartan terror’s growing reputation.
Craig also predicts a first round win at UFC 209.
“It’s scheduled for 15 minutes,” he said. “But I’ll look to get it done in the first round. Expect it to be over very quickly. We don’t get paid for overtime and I want to move up the rankings.”
For more information on how to watch this fight live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS, visit www.ufcfightpass.com.
Ant Evans is the Editor-in-Chief of UFC FIGHT PASS.