If it took until UFC 144 for a fan to get their first glimpse of Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso, one might say that a move to flyweight might have been inevitable for the 31-year-old Californian, who currently stands at 13-3 as a professional and 4-2 in the UFC.

Noted for his Muay Thai—a discipline in which he has actively engaged since his youth—and possessing an underrated ground game, Cariaso looks like someone who has had a run at flyweight before. As he prepares for Josh “Taz” Ferguson at UFC on Fuel TV 4 next weekend, however, he makes it clear that Ferguson will be his first opponent at 125 pounds.

Ferguson, who has won every one of his eight career fights by way of submission, is going to be a far different task for Cariaso than was Cariaso’s UFC 144 foe and former WEC bantamweight title contender Takeya Mizugaki. Many vocalized their opinion in contesting the result of that fight, which came in the form of a unanimous decision win for Cariaso after all three judges scored the contest 29-28 for “Kamikaze,” but from Cariaso’s perspective, the result was justified.

Cariaso (white trunks) looks for a submission against Michael McDonald (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“I definitely was the aggressor in all aspects of the fight,” Cariaso told The MMA Corner, “and it was a good game all the way around.”

The only downside to the fight with Mizugaki was that, as Cariaso recalls, the fight was “anti-climatic” and “kind of boring.”

“When he took me down, he was just kind of holding me down,” Cariaso explained. Game plans change with many a fighter in many a fight, and against Cariaso, Mizugaki’s game plan went in the opposite direction of what Cariaso expected. Mizugaki favored takedowns and maintaining his dominant position on the ground to standing and pushing the pace on the feet.

Against Ferguson, who is returning to flyweight and is looking to erase the sting of a recent loss to Roland Delorme, Cariaso sees a different challenge from what he encountered against Mizugaki. Though things can change between now and fight time, Cariaso has gotten a look at what Ferguson can do, and he knows exactly where his comfort zones will be on fight night.

“I’ve only seen his stuff on The Ultimate Fighter and YouTube and stuff like that,” Cariaso said. “And, you know, he’s kind of one-dimensional in a sense. He’s just trying to throw some big punches and going for a single-leg or double-leg [takedown].”

“He does have some power in his hands, and if he does touch you, it’s going to hurt, but definitely when it comes to the striking, I’m going to have the edge on him.”

Cariaso not only sees the striking in his favor on fight night, but he also sees the speed and power in his favor against Ferguson. To Ferguson’s credit, Cariaso does know that the TUF alum is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, much like himself, and that Ferguson makes good use of his hands. However, Cariaso asserts that he always looked to improve his game everywhere and that he has been working on his ground game in particular.

If there’s one thing that Cariaso can definitely admit he’s not looking at in this fight, however, it’s the cardio. The frenetic, ultra-fast pace and the durability of the flyweights are two of the things that keep fans enthralled by the 125-pounders. Cariaso knows the type of conditioning that flyweights like Ferguson maintain in order to push the pace for which they’re well-known, but he maintains that he’s focusing more on how he’s going to push that pace.

Cariaso (white trunks) battles Vaughan Lee (Sherdog)

“When it comes to the [125-pound] division, everybody’s going to have good cardio, no matter who you are,” Cariaso said. “So when it comes to the cardio and speed, anyone in the division is going to be fast, so I’m not really looking at that. What I’m really looking at is how I’m going to push the pace on him.”

With a win over Ferguson, the first question on everyone’s mind will be one of who will be next for Cariaso. But while the division is still growing, Cariaso’s mind is set on the top of the flyweight mountain.

“There’s a list of guys out there, so anyone in the top three,” Cariaso said. “So that’s who I want to fight next. I want to fight one or two more fights and then I want to get a title shot.”

“Obviously, we got Demetrious Johnson and [Joseph] Benavidez, so I want to fight whoever’s going to be next for that.”

UFC on Fuel TV 4 comes to you this Wednesday night live on Fuel TV with a headliner of Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman, with Cariaso meeting Ferguson on Facebook. If Cariaso does defeat Ferguson, he may find himself on track to accomplish his predicted objective. The eyes and ears of the MMA world can rest assured, though, that Cariaso definitely will not go down without a fight, and for that matter, neither will Ferguson.

Photo: Chris Cariaso at the UFC 138 weigh-ins (Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.