Chris Cariaso deserved ‘Comeback of the Night’ at UFC Fight Night 29

chris-cariaso I’ve always wished UFC awarded a “Comeback Fighter Of The Night” bonus, because it seems as though at every UFC event there is a stunning comeback by somebody who was getting beat handily in the early goings of a fight. At UFC Fight Night 29, that fighter was Chris Cariaso, who battled back after a very tough opening frame to smash Iliarde Santos’ face in the second round and pick up his first stoppage victory since entering the UFC. Cariaso, who used to fight at bantamweight, was again the smaller fighter against Santos, who looked to have cut a significant amount to make the 126-pound maximum flyweight limit. Santos used that extra size to his advantage in the first round, taking Cariaso to the mat and then getting a couple dominant positions on “Kamikaze.” To Cariaso’s credit, he survived Santos’ onslaught but he definitely lost the first round 10-9 and would have to win the second and third frame in Brazil in order to rally for the win. Or, at least, we thought. Despite nearly all of his fights in Zuffa going to decision, Cariaso came out guns blazing in the second and started tagging a tired Santos. He nearly finished Santos with some brutal ground and pound, but Santos was tough enough to survive for another few minutes until ultimately succumbing to a beautiful TKO finish via strikes from the Californian. The win moved Cariaso to 2-2 in the UFC flyweight division, 5-3 in UFC and 6-4 overall in Zuffa. His losses have come to John Moraga, Jussier Da Silva, Michael McDonald and Renan Barao, meaning he has only lost to the cream of the crop at the lighter weight classes. Yet this guy gets absolutely no respect and despite having a huge advantage in Octagon experience over Santos, the public steamed the Brazilian on fight day and Cariaso closed as a +140 underdog, which I thought was a steal considering I thought he should have been the favorite entering the fight. Not only did Cariaso pick up a much-needed win to reaffirm his spot in the flyweight top 10, but he also saved his UFC career as he very likely could have been cut had he lost to Santos, who dropped to 0-3 in the Octagon and who may very well be released himself despite the fact he’s been in exciting fights. In my opinion, the UFC should have given Cariaso a second KO of the Night award after Rousimar Palhares was deemed ineligible to win the Submission of the Night award. But instead the UFC only awarded two bonuses despite the fact at recent events — i.e. UFC Fight Night 27 — there were multiple award winners for the same awards. I know it’s not necessarily logical to reward a fighter for being down on the cards, but I really think a comeback fighter of the night award would be a good addition to UFC events in the future. Even in recent events, you could give awards to guys like Jon Jones (UFC 165), Piotr Hallmann (UFC Fight Night 28), Chico Camus (UFC 164) and Dylan Andrews (UFC Fight Night 27). All of those fighters were losing their fights only to storm back late and take them, which made the fans go crazy, and at the end of the day this sport is all about providing entertainment. After all, there’s nothing more entertaining than a good comeback. And at UFC Fight Night 29, that came from the hands and feet of Chris Cariaso.

Written by Adam Martin.

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