After UFC 169 Win, Chris Cariaso Believes Bout With Ian McCall Would be “Great Fight to See”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Chris Cariaso may not have scored a highlight reel finish at UFC 169 on Saturday, but the flyweight managed to outscore Danny Martinez for the decision win, and record his second straight victory. As a result, Cariaso remains the promotion’s #9 ranked 125’er, and the noted striker has his sights sets on a top five opponent next.
“For me, I want the path to the belt,” Cariaso said on the latest edition of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “So, whoever is going to get me to the belt. So a top fiver is what I want. Kind of going down the list I’ll pretty much fight anybody in that top five. Anyone who is going to get me close to that belt.”
The top five ranked flyweights currently include #1 contender John Dodson, #2 Joseph Benavidez, #3 Ian McCall, #4 John Moraga and the #5 positioned Ali Bagautinov, but there’s one fighter in particular that Cariaso would like to face.
“They just asked me who I thought, and I think that an Ian McCall fight would be a great fight for me man,” Cariaso noted about McCall, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Iliarde Santos in August, after dropping consecutive bouts to champion Demetrious Johnson and Benavidez. “He’s in the top five, he’s coming off a win as well, and I think that would be a great fight. Stylistically for me, for both of us, I think it would be a great fight to see.”
Originally, Cariaso was booked to fight rising Japanese flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi, but after the latter withdrew due to injury, Martinez agreed to step up short notice. The 28 year-old, TUF 18 competitor and experienced wrestler had won four straight heading into the bout.
“He’s a real tough guy and his cardio was a lot better than what I expected going into that fight,” Cariaso said about Martinez. “It was kind of a frustrating fight for me because he just kept holding us up against the fence, so, I was kind of frustrated.”
“I was hoping to get a little more stand-up going on him,” added Cariaso, who out struck Martinez and received a 29-28 nod from all three judges. “At the end of the day I definitely got a good win and was able to show some improved takedown defense. So I was happy about that.”
Although Cariaso relayed he doesn’t typically spend a lot of time studying footage of his opponents, he knew Martinez’s approach would be different than Horiguchi’s.
“We kind of expected him to come in just like that,” said Cariaso, who was coming off a second round, stoppage win of Iliarde Santos in October. “We were training for a total different kind of fighter. He was a southpaw wrestler and we were training for a right handed striker. At the end of the day he came in pretty much how we expected.”
“I hit him hard a bunch of times,” added Cariaso, when asked to comment on Martinez’s toughness. “He definitely had a good chin; he had a hard head for sure.”
UFC 169 was hosted by the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.