UFC 130 exclusive interview: Chris Cariaso

An intense Chris "Kamikaze" Cariaso weighs in at the UFC's "Fight for the Troops" card. Photo credit: UFC

UFC bantamweight fighter Chris Cariaso (11-2) will be looking for an early birthday present when he steps into the cage on May 28.

Just hours before he turns 30, Cariaso will be taking on Michael McDonald (12-1) at UFC 130 emanating from the MGM Grand Garden Area in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Coming off of a unanimous decision win over Will Campuzano (9-4) this past January at “UFC: Fight for the Troops 2”, Cariaso was set to face “Kid” Yamamoto (18-4), when an injury forced Yamamoto out.

Cariaso spoke with ProMMAnow.com’s Josh Cross earlier this week about his fight with McDonald, how the two match up, and how the change in opponents has affected his training camp.

Cariaso also talked what he hopes will happen as a result of his fight broadcast worldwide on Facebook, how training BJJ since he was 11 has helped him to become the fighter he is today, and why he isn’t worried about the height difference between he and McDonald.

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PRO MMA NOW: First off, can you talk about your training camp and how that has been going?

CHRIS CARIASO: I’ve been having a really good training camp. I’ve opened it up kind of a little bit outside of my norm trying to elevate my game. I’ve spent a little bit of time in Montreal at the Tristar Gym with Firas [Zahabi]. I was getting some sparring with Miguel Torres before this fight, so that was pretty good. Then when I came back home I’ve been working with some of the top boxing fighters and Muay Thai fighters out here in the Bay Area. I also have been training with my normal camp with my normal guys Darren and Kurt and the rest of the crew. I’ve just been trying to open up, get more sparring and trying to elevate my game.

PRO MMA NOW: Did having “Kid” Yamamoto pull out of the fight less than five weeks before the bout impact your training camp at all?

CHRIS CARIASO: You know, five weeks is a long time to train for a fight. Kind of coming up through the ranks, I’d be getting two weeks and three weeks notice for a fight so having five weeks notice was a lot of time. Just to switch gears to the guy that I was fighting was pretty easy because pretty much a lot of the fighters that I have fought are tall, lanky guys who are right handed, so I just kind of switched back to kind of my normal training camp to fight against those style fighters.

PRO MMA NOW: How much do you know about your opponent, and how do you feel that you two match up going into this fight?

CHRIS CARIASO: I think it’s a great match-up. I’ve seen him fight for a while, I’ve known him for a while and he’s a nice kid. I’ve actually fought one of his teammates before so going into this fight I thought that it was a great match-up.

PRO MMA NOW: Do you feel like the height difference between you and McDonald is going to be an issue for you in this fight?

CHRIS CARIASO: I’m a short fighter you know and everybody I’ve ever fought has been tall so (laughs) I don’t think I’ve ever fought someone short. Me fighting “Kid” was going to be pretty cool because he is a short guy too so that was going to be a little bit of a change, so that would have been nice. I’ve always fought tall guys so it’s not really anything I haven’t seen before.

PRO MMA NOW: Going into this fight, does it affect your game plan at all knowing that McDonald has had the most success on his feet, and how comfortable are you if the fight does remain standing?

CHRIS CARIASO: I feel really comfortable standing up. That’s kind of my background. I come from a stand up background so standing up with me I think that would be great. I hope he stands with me.

PRO MMA NOW: You’ve been training Muay Thai since you were 11-years-old. How would you say that having that training so early on has benefited you as a fighter today?

CHRIS CARIASO: Basically [it helped me by] just making me more comfortable in the ring. I had my first fight when I was 11-years-old, so basically I’ve been doing this for a long time. Just having that comfort and stepping into the ring and being comfortable standing up and being comfortable getting punched. Sometimes guys that come from a Jiu-Jitsu background are kind of a little shy towards getting punched and stuff like that. I think it definitely helped me out a lot.

PRO MMA NOW: You’ve said that fighting in the UFC was a dream of yours. Now that you’ve realized that dream, are there any other immediate dreams or goals that you have for your MMA career?

CHRIS CARIASO: My short-term goal this year is to break into the top 10. My goal is to be the best in the world. My long-term goal is to get a UFC belt around my waist.

PRO MMA NOW: Can you talk about what it’s like having your fight shown on Facebook so that all of your family, friends and fans can see it live?

CHRIS CARIASO: I think that it’s great. I would put a word out to some people on my Twitter and my Facebook account and already people are asking me, “Oh yeah you’re going to be fighting. How can I watch it?” So it’s really exciting that we’re able to get showcased on that level and hopefully it will bring me some more success and popularity later on down the road.

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PRO MMA NOW: You mentioned your Twitter and Facebook pages. Is that where you would direct fans to go to find out what you’ve got coming up in the future?

CHRIS CARIASO: I’m always posting updates what’s going on in training and articles and stuff that’s coming up on both my Facebook Fan Page and my Twitter (@ChrisCariasoMMA) page.

PRO MMA NOW: Are there any sponsors that you want to plug or people you want to thank?

CHRIS CARIASO: I’d like to thank my family for being great supporters of mine. I’d like to thank all of my trainers and coaches who have been helping take care of me, and helping me get ready for this fight. My sponsors: Hayabusa, HeadRush and Fight and Fitness. And I want to thank all the guys that have been out there supporting me.