UFC FN 40: Chris Cariaso Hopes to “Make a Statement” Versus Louis Smolka, Believes Experience Will Play Factor in Bout
By Kelsey Mowatt
Thanks to consecutive wins over Danny Martinez and Iliarde Santos, Chris Cariaso is currently holding down the #10 ranking in the UFC’s flyweight division, yet the vet has been tapped to face a relative newcomer in Louis Smolka. Although Cariaso would have had more to gain rankings wise, if he was facing a top ten opponent at UFC Fight Night 40, the 32 year-old remains focused on securing another win.
“I definitely would have preferred to have fought a top ten guy, but you know, I’m coming off two losses before my last two wins,” Cariaso relayed on Full Contact Fighter Radio, while citing the defeats he incurred versus Jussier “Formiga” and John Moraga. “I was hoping for a top ten guy but whoever the UFC wants man I’m down to fight.”
“Just whatever is going to get me closer to that belt,” furthered Cariaso, who has gone 6-3 since joining the UFC in 2011. “My goal is to make a statement this fight so that it puts me in with one of those top ten guys.”
While Smolka’s name does not currently appear in the UFC’s top 15 rankings, the flyweight is coming off an impressive Octagon debut in January, when he defeated Alptekin Ozkillic by unanimous decision. With the win, the 22 year-old fighter moved his undefeated record to 7-0.
“I thought he looked tough,” Cariaso said, when asked to assess Smolka’s UFC debut. “He’s definitely pretty well rounded. Has a good jiu-jitsu game…he’s definitely a game fighter and he’s got good cardio, so I’m looking forward to this fight.”
“I didn’t really have any idea who would win…Ozkillic ended up fighting one of my friends previously and he beat him (Darren Uyenoyama), so I wasn’t really sure,” added Cariaso, when asked if he was surprised by Smolka’s victory, which ended Ozkillic’s four fight win streak. “But he looked pretty good for coming in on a debut.”
While it remains to be seen how the flyweight bout will play out at UFC FN 40, there’s little question that Cariaso has the advantage in terms of experience. Not only has Cariaso competed in three times as many pro bouts, but he made his MMA debut back in 2006. Smolka didn’t compete in his first amateur fight until 2010.
“Definitely; I think this is going to be like my 12th fight with ZUFFA and my 22nd pro fight,” noted Cariaso, when asked if experience could play a factor in the bout. “I’ve had 30 amateur fights. I’ve just been well rounded and well seasoned, and I’m definitely use that against him in this fight.”
“Being out there and knowing what it feels like to be in those types of positions and not to freak out,” Cariaso furthered about some of the advantages of being an experienced fighter. “It’s tough getting out of a bad position and I’ve been there before. Man, I’ve fought Renan Barao, I’ve fought Michael McDonald, I’ve kind of fought the best of the best in the sport, so coming up against a guy with seven fights, I’m definitely going to be able to use my experience against him.”
And how does Cariaso envision Saturday’s bout with Smolka unfolding?
“I feel like he’s going to come and try to bang,” said Cariaso. “I think that he’s going to try to use his height, use that as an advantage against me. I kind of foresee that as his game plan, so I think you’re going to see him try to stand with me….wherever we go I’m down to go.”
Saturday’s UFC FN 40 will be hosted by the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.