Last night (Sat., May 10, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweights Chris Cariaso and Louis Smolka went to war in the opening main card bout of UFC Fight Night 40 from U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.
No. 10-ranked Cariaso came in having won two straight inside the Octagon, his most recent being a decision over Danny Martinez at UFC 169. "Kamikaze" sought to become the first man to defeat Hawaiian-born Smolka.
Possessing six finishes in seven total bouts, Smolka recently made his UFC debut by defeating Alptekin Ozkilic at UFC Fight Night 35 earlier this year. He had a golden opportunity to announce himself as a major player in the UFC flyweight division by defeating a solid opponent.
Cariaso held the huge edge in Octagon experience, and in the end, it paid off in spades. Let's take a look back at how "Kamikaze" taught Smolka a lesson in Cincinnati.
Smolka came out aggressive, pushing the action early on. Controlling Cariaso against the cage, he appeared to be the much bigger fighter. The crowd grew restless as referee Herb Dean warned the fighters to get to work. Cariaso slipped out to throw a big elbow, following up with a nice combination. Smolka kept pressing forward, returning to the clinch and lading some knees and. Cariaso attempted a tight D'arce choke as the final minute of the opening round wore down.
Cariaso landed a good flurry of kicks and punches to start the second round, reversing Smolka's attempt to clinch by taking "Da Last Samurai's" back. Smolka escaped to jump into Cariaso's guard. Cariaso sought an inverted armbar that Smolka rolled through, and the fight went back to the feet.
Smolka continued to smother Cariaso against the cage, but "Kamikaze" responded with a nice trip takedown. Smolka worked to find a submission that never got there as Cariaso kept busy with some ground shots. Smolka turned up the heat with a good combination and Cariaso fought back with precise shots of his own. Smolka got a takedown, but Cariaso again went for the choke and appeared to have it locked on as the bell sounded to save "Da Last Samurai."
The final round began with the fighters trading shots. Cariaso snapped a low kick and a combo, continuously countering Smolka's advances with solid right hands. Smolka tripped Cariaso to the ground, eventually mounting Cariaso to land some strong elbows. "Kamikaze" returned to his feet to eat some knees, and then a scramble lead to a brief striking exchange. Smolka was dropped by a huge leg kick, and Cariaso continued to punish his opponent's lead leg. Cariaso ended the fight by landing a few punches.
Cariaso locked up a split decision to in his third straight UFC bout. He should be due for a big fight in the relatively shallow UFC 125-pound arena His overall skillset was on display as he showed crisp striking, excellent defensive wrestling, and even some dangerous choke attempts.
A fight against the winner of the upcoming UFC Fight Night 46 grudge match between Brad Pickett and Ian McCall could make sense for Cariaso's next opponent.
For Smolka, the loss is a disheartening one, but he may actually benefit more from it when it's all said and done He won't have to worry about keeping his perfect record intact any longer, and he now knows what he has to work on to contend with the best flyweights in UFC.
The promising prospect will most likely rebound against someone on the lower level of or just outside the Top 15.
Chris Cariaso scored a three-fight win streak by defeating Louis Smolka with an effective mix of skills. Who's next for "Kamikaze?"