Chris Cariaso on UFC 155 Opponent John Moraga: “He’s Going to Find Himself Wanting to Try And Wrestle With Me”
By Kelsey Mowatt
While creating a new weight division may seem as easy as just declaring it exists, in reality, establishing a new champion and a title shot picture to drive up fan interest can take some time. Of course, the UFC began 2012 by adding the flyweight division, and proceeded to promote an extended tourney to determine it’s first 125 pound champ. With Demetrious Johnson having laid claim to the flyweight championship in September, however, the new division’s title shot picture is finally coming into focus.
Case in point, the upcoming December 29th, UFC 155 will feature a bout between rising flyweights Chris Cariaso and John Moraga, which the former believes could leave him standing as a top contender.
“I think that a with a good win over John, it definitely puts me right up there in title contention,” Cariaso (14-3) noted recently on Full Contact Fighter Radio, when asked if he believes a win over the 12-1 could lead to a title shot. “If I win big, I’ll definitely be there and so that’s kind of what I’m looking for. I’m looking to win big this time.”
Since the 31 year-old Cariaso arrived in the UFC in last January the WEC vet has gone 4-1, with his only loss during that stretch–a split decision– coming against top bantamweight contender Michael McDonald. Although the 5’3 tall Cariaso proceeded to score wins over Takeya Mizugaki and Vaughan Lee, he knew his true potential could not be realized until the promotion opened the flyweight division for business.
“The first thing is that I’m not fighting guys with six-and-a-half, seven inches height advantage on me, and then, another seven or eight inches of reach advantage,” said Cariaso, who made his UFC flyweight debut in July and earned a unanimous decision win over Josh Ferguson. “For me, that’s definitely a big factor, being a short fighter.”
“A lot of these guys carry a lot of weight at the same time,” Cariaso furthered. “They’re walking around at 165, 170 pounds between fights. Fat and out of shape I’m 155 pounds at the most. So, coming down to 125 definitely brings the guys down, their reach down. At the tallest they’re going to be 5’6, 5’7, and if they are, they’re not going to have seven or eight inches reach advantage against me.”
While Cariaso has put together a string of wins in the Octagon to work his way up the flyweight ranks, Moraga immediately made an impact in his first UFC bout, by knocking out Ulysses Gomez at UFC on FOX 4.
“I’ve seen a couple of his other fights and he looks like he’s pretty well rounded,” Cariaso said about Moraga, who has won six straight heading into their fight. “He’s got good submissions, he’s got a decent stand-up game and a good wrestling game, so I definitely think he’s a very well rounded fighter.”
It will be interesting to see whether the former NCAA Division 1 wrestler will look to test his striking skills against Cariaso, who is a decorated kickboxing and San Shou competitor.
“I think both of us are going to start off striking, and then I think that he’s going to find himself wanting to try and wrestle with me,” said Cariaso. “Probably the start of the fight is going to be a war…come later in the fight you’re going to see him trying to start wrestling.”
“For sure, with anybody out there, anybody in the flyweight division, I’m willing to stand up,” Cariaso furthered while discussing his striking skills and where they rank in comparison to his other fellow flyweights. “I want to stand up.”
UFC 155 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will feature heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos versus Cain Velasquez in the main event.