“I have a lot of work to do, but I am glad to do it representing Houston.”
Interview by: AJ Hoffman
Team Tooke’s Andrew Craig is the next Houston fighter making his way to the big stage, as Andrew got the call last week that he would be fighting in Australia at UFC on FX 2 against Kyle Noke. We had a chance to talk to Andrew shortly after he got the news.
Craig: Since Tuesday. It was a pretty big concern to keep it quiet. At first I wanted to tell everyone, now everyone knows and there is no one to tell. All my friends in the MMA community find out before my other friends. I got all the MMA guys congratulating me on Thursday night. My other friends are starting to catch up now.
TCD: Who was the first person you told?
Craig: The first person I told was Travis (Tooke). I said, “What are you doing March 3rd? Do you want to go to Sidney, Australia with me to fight in the UFC that day?” He was really excited for me, obviously. I told my parents and my roommates knew. We all had to keep it really quiet though.
TCD: Did they tell you on Tuesday who your opponent would be?
Craig: They told me Sidney, Australia against Kyle Noke. I knew who he was from the show. He was the “cool Australian” guy. I know he has been doing really well in the UFC, but he just got ripped apart by Ed Herman in his last fight. He is just a really interesting dude. Steve Irwin’s bodyguard and BJJ instructor. I think it’s a fun matchup.
TCD: Are you nervous about fighting in Australia?
Craig: I am so excited about that part. Obviously I want to be with the UFC because that’s where fighters want to be, but the coolest part is getting to travel the world. I’ve been to Mexico and stuff, but going to Australia is going to be awesome. I finally feel a little more validated hitting on girls in an Aussie accent.
TCD: What about having the crowd going against you? We have seen recently with UFC Brazil how hostile the overseas crowds can be to outsiders.
Craig: I went through it on a much smaller scale fighting Pineiro in San Antonio. I got booed there. That was the first time I had ever been booed. This will probably just be like that times 100. I think it is cool that fans get so passionate about their home guys, like they did on that UFC Rio show. I won’t mind it at all.
TCD: What part of your game do you feel needs the most improvement between now and March 3rd?
Craig: I need to improve everywhere. I haven’t watched a lot of his tapes. I have seen the Herman fight, but I need to see a win. He has a couple of wins with rear naked chokes. I dealt with that stuff with the Schambari and Bush fights. I don’t think he is as much of a wrestler. I think he works his takedowns from the clinch for the most part. I guess that is what I really need to work on.
TCD: You haven’t been in the cage since the Schambari fight. How close are you to being fight ready?
Craig: After the Schambari fight I had broken my hand, and I couldn’t spar for 2 and a half months. My new management wanted me to chill out and wait for a while. If nothing popped up I was going to try and get on the April Legacy card, but now something has popped up. I have been really hitting it hard since early December. I have been doing 3-a days. I had been grappling a lot. I have kept my strength and conditioning going. I just couldn’t do any striking. When you work at the gym full time you don’t have much choice but to stay fight ready.
TCD: How does it feel to be representing Houston on the biggest of stages? Do you feel like you and Daniel are blazing a new path?
Craig: It feels phenomenal. You feel validated that you finally made it, but I still haven’t really done shit. I have a lot of work to do, but I am glad to do it representing Houston. I think Daniel and I both made a really good decision by going with the management company that we did, First Round. I also think Daniel helped me by doing it first. We owe a lot of thanks to Mick Maynard. He is the one who got HDNet in here and brought in guys from out of town for us to fight and showcase us. It’s just been the perfect storm.
TCD: Anyone you want to thank, Andrew?
Craig: Travis Tooke, Robby Rabadi, Team Tooke students and training partners, the guys at Paradigm, Plex, Mick Maynard, First Round Management, my family and friends for their support, of course the guys at thecagedoor.net.