Chris Cariaso isn't short on confidence ahead of his unexpected title fight against Demetrious Johnson.
Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that Chris Cariaso was given the next crack at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight titleholder Demetrious Johnson; a fight that's set to co-headline UFC 177 on Aug., 30, 2014 in Sacramento, California.
While no one is questioning the challenger's merit (he's won three straight), most in the mixed martial arts (MMA) community were baffled when the No. 8-ranked fighter jumped all the way to the front of the line.
UFC President Dana White, however, tells UFC's "The Download" that the decision to give Cariaso a title shot is really not all the complicated.
"The problem is that there is no doubt the fight everybody wanted to see would be John Dodson, but he's hurt. Ian McCall just fought, Johnson knocked out [Joseph] Benavidez, and he beat John Moraga. People are going to bitch about Demetrious Johnson no matter who we put him in there against. Eventually, he'll just have to keep knocking people out left and right and then he'll earn his respect."
Indeed, John Dodson was scheduled to get his much-desired rematch against "Mighty Mouse" before tearing his ACL.
And if you look at the rest of the people in front of Cariaso, the match up makes sense.
Joseph Benavidez already has two losses to Johnson, McCall already had a fight booked prior to the announcement, Ali Bagautinov is out for a year, John Moraga is coming off a loss, Jussier Formiga just got back on the winning track, as did John Lineker.
Doesn't get much simpler than that.
Nevertheless, even if some believe Chris received the title shot only by default, that won't stop the Tri-Star - trained fighter from fulfilling his own championship dreams by upsetting the world champion. Something he's confident he can do by keeping the fight standing, as he recently declared on The MMA Hour:
"I think he has a lot of weaknesses. I think I can beat him in the stand up area. Obviously his wrestling is great, but my jiu-jitsu is better. So, there's a lot of different places where I think this fight can go. I'm relishing this. This is my time to cement my place in mixed martial arts history. With this media and and this hype. So its definitely my time to shine."
Easier said than done.
As for "Mighty Mouse," he'll look to collect his fifth straight title defense and hopefully get a bit more respect, in the process.