Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will make a quick turnaround to defend his 125-pound title at UFC 177. “Mighty Mouse” is set to make his fifth defense against Chris Cariaso on Aug. 30 in Sacramento. Johnson has emerged as one of the promotion’s most dominant champions, while Cariaso has been on the rise thanks to a current three-fight win streak.
Johnson turned in a near flawless performance last month at UFC 174 in Vancouver against Ali Bagautinov. “Puncher King” not only lost the fight via unanimous decision, but the Russian competitor is now suspended for a year after testing positive for EPO during a random drug test.
The champion has made other successful defenses against John Dodson, John Moraga and Joseph Benavidez. While Johnson has tremendous skills, the relatively new division isn’t resonating with fans just yet. His first chance to headline a PPV event proved a bust with just 100,000 buys reported.
”Mighty Mouse” had been expected to face Dodson next, but that rematch was derailed by an ACL injury that will keep “The Magician” out of action for a year. Johnson, who is on a six-fight win streak, is well on his way to wiping out all potential contenders.
Cariaso gets the opportunity of a lifetime after being pulled from an already scheduled matchup in September against Kyoji Horiguchi. “Kamikaze” has rebounded in a major way after suffering back-to-back losses against top-10 contenders Moraga and Jussier Formiga. However, Cariaso hasn’t faced anyone ranked inside the top-15 during this recent successful run. That’s why his selection to face Johnson seemingly came out of the blue. He’s compiled a 7-3 Octagon record.
His last appearance was a split-decision victory over previously unbeaten Louis Smolka at Fight Night 40 in May. Cariaso was able to secure the win by outworking his much taller opponent. He’s also notched victories over Iliarde Santos and Danny Martinez during this current stretch. The former bantamweight has a 17-5 career record with five of those victories by knockout or submission. He will undoubtedly enter this contest as a massive underdog.
The Johnson-Cariaso title clash will serve as the co-main event on a card that will be headlined by the bantamweight title rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and former champion Renan Barao.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for RantSports.com