UFC Fight Night 164 won’t go down in history as one of the most exciting events in the promotion’s history, but there was a least a modicum of controversy from the card.
Co-main event combatants Mauricio Rua and Paul Craig put on one of the better battles of the night, but the rabid Brazilian crowd walked out of Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo with a sour taste in their collective mouths. “Shogun” has long been one of MMA’s most beloved warriors and many in attendance felt the local legend had done enough to topple Craig. However, their skirmish was declared a split draw.
Craig (12-4-1) fought well in the opening frame as he battered Rua’s body with kicks and punches, and when he could, “Bearjew” busted up his foe’s face. By the end of the first, Rua was breathing heavily and discouraged because he couldn’t get anything going. However, Craig let off the gas in the second and allowed the all-time great veteran back in the fight, a decision he’ll likely regret for some time.
Rua (26-11-1) came on strong in the final two frames and appeared to have done enough to offset Craig’s dominant first round. Even with his face busted up and bleeding at the final horn, most in attendance and many watching from home felt “Shogun” came from behind to win. That wasn’t the case and Rua was miffed.
“It was clear that he won the first round and I won the other two,” a disgruntled Rua said afterward. “I thought it was totally unfair.”
Craig had a slightly different take on the outcome and actually seemed a bit surprised that he wound up settling for a draw.
“I came to Brazil and got a draw against a Brazilian legend,” Craig said. “I just wish I had done more. I should have done better.”