Britons Craig and Shore suffer defeat at UFC 301

A split picture of Paul Craig and Jack Shore
Paul Craig and Jack Shore both changed weight class in 2023 [Getty Images]

Briton's Paul Craig and Jack Shore suffered second round defeats at UFC 301 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Scotland's Craig was knocked out by a straight left from Brazilian middleweight Caio Borralho at the Jeunesse Arena.

Shore's bout with home favourite Joanderson Brito was stopped with doctors believing the Welshman had broken his leg after absorbing a number of kicks.

Craig's defeat was his second in a row at middleweight, with Shore losing his first featherweight contest since moving up in weight last year.

In the main event, Brazil's Alexandre Pantoja retained his flyweight title with a unanimous decision win over Australia's Steve Erceg.

Disappointment for Brits

Craig came into the contest after being submitted by Brendan Allen in November on a bitter-sweet night where he became the first Scottish fighter to headline a UFC event.

The 36-year-old was presented the opportunity after impressively stopping Andre Muniz on his middleweight debut four months prior, but he has been unable since to replicate the form he showed that night.

He struggled to find rhythm against 31-year-old Borralho, and was stunned in the first round as the Brazilian displayed his striking advantage with a straight right-left combination.

Craig's attack consisted of body kicks and takedown attempts that were nullified by Borralho, before the defining moment came midway through the second round.

Borralho landed a flurry of strikes to rock his opponent, before knocking him out with a straight left and extending his unbeaten record in the UFC to six fights.

“I told you all I was going to KO him and I did it," said Borralho.

"Knocking him out wasn’t about my ego, it was the smartest way to win against Paul. I am a fighting nerd."

Shore, 29, meanwhile, was fighting for the first time in 14 months after having an arm operation in which bone from his pelvis was fused with his wrist.

Shore was victorious on his featherweight debut after moving up from bantamweight last March, but was stopped from utilising his game plan by the 29-year-old Brito.

Brito, who has now won five of his six UFC fights, deployed a relentless leg kicking strategy that opened up a deep cut on Shore’s shin.

The referee stopped the contest to allow doctors to check on the Welshman, who had blood pouring down his leg.

With medical staff believing Shore had suffered a broken leg, the fight was awarded to Brito on a technical knockout.

Brazilians rouse Rio

Alexandre Pantoja following his win over Steve Erceg
Pantoja is on a six-fight win streak in the UFC [Getty Images]

Erceg was granted the opportunity against Pantoja having only made his debut in June, with the 28-year-old picking up three wins during his 11 months in the promotion.

Ranked 10th in the UFC flyweight division, he was a pre-fight underdog against Pantoja, 34, who was making the second defence of his title.

Erceg, who had a size and reach advantage over Pantoja, attacked with his jab and elbows throughout, but lost the fight during the grappling exchanges, where the Brazilian racked up more than eight minutes of control time on the ground.

Following victory, Pantoja urged the his hometown crowd to stay in the arena and celebrate with him, before adding he may take a break having fought in three title bouts inside a year.

In the co-main event, UFC hall of famer Jose Aldo delighted the passionate home crowd, beating Jonathan Martinez by unanimous decision with a vintage performance.

Former featherweight champion Aldo, 37, who came out of retirement for the bantamweight bout, donned a crown following his victory, paying homage to his 'King of Rio' nickname.

The Brazilian then hinted at returning to the UFC for another run at the bantamweight title.

Elsewhere, Iasmin Lucindo, 22, overcame the largest age gap in history for a UFC women’s fight, out-pointing Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who is 16 years her elder.