Paul “Bearjew” Craig may not have been competing at BAMMA 24 but the BAMMA Light Heavyweight Champion is stealing the headlines following a backstage altercation with SBG Ireland’s Chris Fields.
Fields fought on the show and picked up a win over Dan Konecke and was met backstage after his win by Craig. The BAMMA Unfiltered backstage video captured the pair discussing a potential Title fight, but off camera things got pretty heated as Craig recalls.
“Well after the Fields fight I went to the toilet which was on the same floor as their dressing room. Just happened to come out and we bumped into each other. Maybe I had, had a few jars and probably shouldn’t of but in heat of moment I said some stuff.”
“A few of his teammates got onboard but it was just me standing there getting abused by the SBG guys. It was pretty much a “my balls are bigger than yours” moment. Fields was saying how small I was for a Light Heavyweight and that the guys I have fought are bums. Karl Moore was an unbeaten pro when we fought and Marcin was the BAMMA Champion so obviously not bums.”
The backstage heat and further exchanges between the pair on social media certainly make a fight between them easier to sell for the promotion, but Craig thinks there are others that should be ahead of Fields in the pecking order to challenge for his Light Heavyweight Title.
“He hadn’t won since 2012 and then beat a guy who nearly took him out in the first round. I’ll take the easy fight because if you ask me there are harder fights to be had in BAMMA. How many guys get a Title shot after coming off a losing streak then beating a last minute replacement?”
“I think that Brett McDermott deserves the shot before Fields. His last loss was to a very good opponent in King Mo but prior to that he had a big TKO win. I can’t understand why they (BAMMA) would look at Fields. If McDermott wins his next one then him and Fields should fight to determine the next Title contender.”
“For some reason Fields thinks its an easy fight for him but I am just a horrible matchup for him. His strong point is his jiu-jitsu but I am very strong on the ground. I look to go in and fight and I learn and pick up things all the time. He is old and on his way down, I am on my way up. I’m young and hungry and he is old and doesn’t have that drive that I have.”
Up until BAMMA 24, Fields had competed in the Middleweight division and hadn’t been on Craig’s radar, but Craig does recall the first time he saw Fields at the weigh-ins for BAMMA 22 and Fields clearly frustrated the Light Heavyweight Champion.
“The very first time I saw him was at the BAMMA weigh-ins at the first Dublin show. I was sitting there and this guy comes out, horrible looking creature, teeth looking like Stonehenge. Got up in his opponents face and I turn round to my coach and say, if this guy is in my weight division I would love to fight him. Turns out it was Chris Fields. Then he got beaten on that show.”
Field’s was recently interviewed by MMA media outlet SevereMMA.com and he discussed his thoughts on what happened backstage at BAMMA 24, including calling Craig an “Aldi version of Conor McGregor in a Primark suit”, something which Craig took issue with.
“I have a few issues with his comments. Firstly, I wasn’t wearing a suit, I had jeans on, a shirt, jumper and suit jacket. I am a fighter, how many fighters do you know who can be wearing Conor McGregor suits? I am happy to be the Aldi version of Conor McGregor if it gets people talking.”
“I may be the Aldi Conor McGregor but you are Chris Fields, Conor McGregor’s housewife.”
Whilst no bouts have yet been confirmed for Craig’s first Title defence, Craig is certainly pushing for BAMMA to bring a show to Scotland and guarantees that Scotland definitely have the crowds to fill out a big arena show.
“I asked BAMMA to get me on the Dublin card but they said it was too soon. Then I asked about BAMMA 25 but if I’m honest I think me and Fields would get lost on that card. Obviously for me I would love to fight in Scotland and I think me and Fields could make that happen.”
“BAMMA also have Chris Bungard and Graham “Afterburner” Turner so potentially three guys, myself including who could all fight for Titles on a show in Scotland. Chris Bungard is the biggest draw in Scottish MMA right now. MMA in Scotland is getting bigger and there are more and more gyms now putting out some great guys. A few years back there was only really one gym in Scotland but thats not the case anymore.”
Being the BAMMA Light Heavyweight Champion is a huge accomplishment for Craig and with only eight fights on his record has certainly made a statement on the European scene, but for Craig being the Champion isn’t the be all and end all of his MMA career, he just really loves a scrap.
“I didn’t get in to this to make money. Being a Champion doesn’t both me, I don’t care about the belt or fame. I just enjoy fighting. There is something, a thrill in fighting. In my first BAMMA fight when I stepped into the second round for the first time in my career I just felt a weird feeling, I can’t describe it, it was like a moment of zen and I was just so happy and focused to be in there. This is all I want to do.”
Craig would like to thank “Hellcat graphics, Uddingston Physiotherapy, Rehabilitation Clinic, Musclefood.com, The Dapper Gent and a shout out to my podcast the BearBack.”
Be sure to follow Craig on twitter @PCraigMMA