Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defends his title against Chris “Kamikazee” Cariaso on Sunday, September 27th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as the main event of UFC 178.
Johnson’s much-anticipated bout with Cariaso marks his fifth consecutive title defense since becoming the inaugural UFC Flyweight Champion in September of 2012 after defeating Team Alphamale’s Joseph Benavidez.
The 28-year-old Kirkland, Washington native, Johnson, in papers, is ahead on every aspect of the game against his challenger.
Johnson has near to perfection skill set since he set foot in the Octagon as a flyweight. His striking evolution is unbelievable, having become an explosive and technical fighter significantly. He utilizes a lot of head movements and side-to-side movements to confuse his opponents and enjoys throwing lighting quick one-two combos as a set up for his takedowns. This guy is nearly impossible to hit.
When it comes to the wrestling aspect, “Mighty Mouse” is still in the lead against Cariaso. Once Johnson changes levels and shoots for either a single or a double, there is a high possibility that he will get the takedown due to his explosiveness.
If the fight takes place on the ground, Johnson might have a slight problem as Cariaso has a very active ground game; but the rate of Cariaso submitting Johnson in this fight is near to the ground. Johnson has never been submitted in his entire MMA career. When was the last time you saw the champion getting pinned down by his foes? He is really that good – you will need to re-watch his previous matches just to see if someone really ever held him down in a fight.
Johnson is an insanely gifted athlete with complete weapons in his arsenal. The champ has already defeated majority of fighters in the top ten lists for the 125 pound division. A lot of experts around the globe are saying that he already cleaned out his division and this fight is a huge mismatch against Cariaso. But he needs to get the win come fight night to validate the accolades.
Cariaso is ranked no. 8 in the world and he is set to prove his doubters wrong so that when UFC 178 ends, he will have his hand raised with Dana White awarding him the UFC flyweight strap.
Cariaso is a technical striker who has nothing to lose in this championship showdown. He said during his pre-fight interviews that he doesn’t feel any pressure at all coming to this fight; instead, he is pumped and keen to fight the champion and demonstrate to all UFC fans that he deserves their respect.
The Filipino-American flyweight contender is known for being a fighter who enjoys trading punches with his opponents at the center of the Octagon. He doesn’t care if he gets tagged by his opponents, he just wants to win and make himself remembered as one of the best flyweights in this generation; he is called “Kamikazee” for a reason.
While on paper, he looks less powerful, less quick, and less skilled than Johnson, Cariaso has an advantage when it comes to willpower. Though he is facing a much-accomplished fighter, he is not showing any signs of intimidation, even feeling motivated that he finally has the chance to try to remove the flyweight king from his throne and start a new reign.
Cariaso has an exceptional ground game, very active BJJ and has also the explosiveness to go against Johnson. He might get taken down by the champion, but I see Cariaso getting back up and controlling the fight on the feet. He hasn’t fought a guy who is unbelievably fast like Johnson in the past, but he’s got power behind his strikes to slow the champion’s speed down. He can hurt Johnson but he needs to be calculated on his offense to succeed.
This is going to be an insane fight. I predict a fast-paced scrap from the get go between Johnson and Cariaso. Of course, Cariaso is a massive underdog, but look at what TJ Dillawshaw did to Barao at UFC 173, he shocked the world by stopping the champion in the fifth round and that is what Cariaso is hoping to replicate against Johnson. At the age of 33 years old, Cariaso needs to seize this opportunity to get the title before it’s too late. There are ton of talented up and comers in the UFC’s flyweight division today, if you are in the challenger’s shoes, you must realize that this might not happen again, a lot of young and super gifted guys are waiting for their turn.
As for the champion, he needs to win this fight to validate that he really cleaned up his division and he deserves that no. 1 spot at the pound for pound rankings.