UFC 178: Demetrious Johnson Appears Focused and Ready for Chris Cariaso, Despite Being Massive Favorite
By FCF Staff
Although not many people are predicting that Demetrious Johnson’s run as UFC Flyweight Champion will come to an end on Saturday, “Mighty Mouse” certainly doesn’t appear to be looking past Chris Cariaso.
A few months ago, it looked like Johnson would take on John Dodson for a second time in his next title defense, but after the latter went down with a knee injury, Cariaso was booked for the challenge.
Cariaso has impressed as of late, as the noted striker has won three in a row, but since the vet is ranked #8, the title fight announcement caught many folks by surprise.
None of that, however, matters to Johnson. The champion recently appeared on FOX Sports 1’s “UFC Tonight”, and had this to say when asked whether Cariaso deserves a title shot.
“Absolutely,” Johnson noted about Cariaso, who is coming off wins over Ilarde Santos, Danny Martinez and most recently Louis Smolka. “His record is 7-3, he’ll be well prepared and on Saturday night we’ll see who wins.”
Johnson has maintained a respectful tone heading into the September 27th fight, despite the fact he’s a massive favorite heading into UFC 178. Some of the oddsmakers have Cariaso as an underdog in the +850 to +1000 range, and the renowned champ as a -1400 favorite.
The bout comes at a time when Johnson is armed with a seven fight, undefeated streak, which includes victories over top contenders like Joseph Benavidez, John Moraga, Ian McCall and Ali Bagautinov. The wins have moved Johnson into the UFC’s top five, pound-for-pound rankings, as the AMC Pankration fighter is currently ranked #4.
“This is what I do to provide for my family,” Johnson relayed on “UFC Tonight”, while discussing his motivation to fight. “I get my paycheck and pay my bills and take care of my family.”
“Johnson can go 25 minutes without ever slowing down,” UFC commentator and fighter Daniel Cormier said, while heaping praise on Johnson. “His keys are going to be to use that championship level experience to show Cariaso that there’s a difference in fighting at the beginning of a main card than to a main event. His footwork; there’s nobody in the UFC who moves and punches and mixes wrestling better than Demetrious Johnson.”
The consensus opinion seems to be that Cariaso’s path to victory is through his striking game, provided he can slow down Johnson and shut down his wrestling.
“Cariaso has good boxing from inside the pocket,” Gilbert Melendez noted on “UFC Tonight”. “Look for him to sprawl, but he’s also good off his back. If he can get to his feet from the bottom or stop Johnson from ground and pounding him and can keep this fight on his feet, he’ll be successful. I think he might be the better striker in this fight.”
UFC 178 will be hosted by the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will also feature a featherweight bout between contenders Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.