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Thursday, 06/27/2013, 01:58 pm

UFC 162′s Andrew Craig: “I’m a More Refined Chris Leben”

By JAKE CHASTAIN

| Next weekend at UFC 162 in Las Vegas UFC middleweight Andrew Craig (8-1) will make his return to the cage following the first loss of his MMA career. He will be placed opposite of longtime promotional staple and fan-favorite, Chris Leben (22-9).

Craig, who is 2-1 inside the UFC with wins over Kyle Noke and Rafael Natal, recently spoke with UFC.com leading up to the fight on July 6th with Chris Leben. In that interview Craig gave his thoughts on how he stacked up against Leben and how his style was, in a way, similar to the TUF 1 alum’s.  Here are some of the highlights from that interview with UFC.com:

Craig, who is coming off of the first loss of his career to Ronny Markes back at UFC on FX 7 in January, will be looking for his ninth professional MMA victory and a spot atop of the UFC middleweight contention latter with a win over Leben at UFC 162. But he first spoke about how his first professional loss to Markes changed his perspective on fighting:

“I was always really scared about getting rid of that “0” on my record and keeping that perfect record intact,” Craig explained. “I didn’t know how I was going to react when I lost, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. It made me put the sport in a different perspective. It didn’t change my perspective on training, but it did change my perspective of what I have to do in the fight. It changed my mind on what I have to do as far as to win the fight. Also, my pay was cut in half. I’m used to getting two checks and I only got one check. I didn’t like that.”

He then explained why fans should love him and how his style will match up with “The Crippler” on July 6th:

“I think my standup is more dynamic. He throws a heavy left, a heavy right, he throws some leg kicks, but not a whole lot, and some head kicks, but not a whole lot. He’s got more knockouts on his resume, but he’s also got a helluva lot more fights. In my fights, I’ve hurt people in every way. Head kick knockouts and punching knockouts. I think I’m faster, longer, and more dynamic. I think people can expect if they’re fans of Chris Leben’s fighting style then they’re going to be fans of Andrew Craig’s. I think I’m a more refined Chris Leben. I’m younger, I’m more athletic, and I have way more to offer than just swinging for the fences. I have crisp striking that can put people down.”

Craig will be fighting the biggest “name” of his career as he takes on Chris Leben. An impressive win over Leben could make Craig a well known name in the UFC middleweight division, and Craig is hoping that this fight will be a passing of the guard.

Leben, who is likely nearing the end of his career and is coming off of two consecutive losses, is looking for one last push for success before hanging up the gloves. His veteran poise and experience may come up big in this fight as “The Crippler” aims to avoid three straight losses in his battle with Craig on July 6th at UFC 162 in Vegas.

So what do you think, fight fans? Is Craig the new-breed of Chris Leben or does Leben still have enough left in the tank to derail Craig from any UFC title hopes? This should be a very competitive fight and a fantastic clash as the two fighters indeed share a similar style. So who do you got in this middleweight scrap, Penn Nation?

For more UFC 162 news and updates click here and stay posted to BJPenn.com

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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