MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: Mighty Mouse vs. Cariaso Co-Headlines UFC 177

chris-cariaso The UFC has added another title fight to UFC 177, and the match will serve as the event’s co-headliner. The promotion announced on Tuesday that UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will take on Chris Cariaso at UFC 177, which is set for August 30 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. The bout will serve as the co-main event of the evening, with the headliner being the UFC bantamweight title rematch between champion TJ Dillashaw and former champ Renan Barao. Immediately after the Johnson vs. Cariaso matchup was announced, social media went on fire about how the fight is stupid and how it doesn’t make sense. I can understand the sentiment, but I disagree somewhat. Do I think Cariaso should have got a title shot, or that he’s in any way, shape, or form the No. 1 contender at 125lbs? Of course I don’t. John Dodson was the next man in line for a crack at “Mighty Mouse,” but after getting surgery last week, Dodson will be out for a year. So the UFC needed someone to fight Johnson in six weeks from now, and without the No. 1 contender available, there weren’t many other choices for a replacement. Sure, there’s a flyweight bout between Brad Pickett and and Ian McCall this weekend, and I figured the winner was going to get the next title shot with Dodson hurt, but there’s no guarantee the winner of that fight would a) look impressive in victory, and b) leave the fight without any sort of injuries. There was also the winner of Zach Makovsky vs. Jussier Formiga, but that fight is in a month and the UFC didn’t want to break up the matchup. With UFC 177 in just six weeks, the promotion needed an opponent for Johnson right now and they couldn’t wait with tickets going on sale this week. So they chose Cariaso, who was scheduled to fight Kyoji Horiguchi in Japan in September in eight weeks (enough time to find Horiguchi a replacement opponent), and who currently has the second-longest win streak in the division other than Johnson (4-2 overall record at flyweight in the UFC, 7-3 overall record in the UFC for Cariaso). It’s not an ideal situation, but it works. Cariaso is a California native and he should help at least somewhat with ticket sales as the fight takes place in his home state and no doubt he will bring a legion of friends, family, and people he’s trained with over the years. I’m not saying he will move the needle on pay-per-view, but neither will Johnson. At this point, the UFC just needs an opponent to face their flyweight champ, who is clearly one of the most talented fighters in the world, but who is also a fighter that the casual fan hasn’t come around to yet. It didn’t matter who it was — it just so happened Cariaso was available at the right time and the champ was okay with fighting him on six weeks’ notice. As far as the matchup goes, it should be quite exciting like most flyweight bouts are, but there’s no doubt in my mind Johnson will win this fight with his wrestling and he will enter the bout as a massive favorite. In regards to odds, look for Johnson to be a favorite of -1000 or even higher, a combination of him being such a good fighter and Cariaso getting little respect from the betting public. It’s not a perfect solution, but the UFC needed to act fast and, looking at the rankings, Cariaso is the highest-ranked fighter who was available who hasn’t fought Johnson before. And hey, at the end of the day, UFC 177 will feature two title fights, so that’s a good thing. Again, I’m not saying that Cariaso deserved a title shot, but the UFC’s hand were tied due to Dodson’s injury and the fact they needed a co-main event announced ASAP, so I can understand the decision. And hey, it could always be worse — it could have been a fighter coming off a loss getting the title shot. At least Cariaso has three-straight wins.

Written by Adam Martin.

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