This Saturday night the UFC will put on their final event of 2012. It begins with a Flyweight contest between two top contenders, one of which could very well be fighting for the belt come 2013. Chris 'Kamikaze' Cariaso has spent most of his career fighting for the big timers (UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, EliteXC), while Moraga (pictured center) will be making just his second appearance outside of the local promotions. Moraga was supposed to fight top five ranked flyweight Ian McCall at UFC on FOX 4 this past summer but when "Uncle Creepy" fell victim to the 2012 UFC injury curse, it was Ulysses Gomez who stepped in. It may have been a blessing in disguise for McCall because as it turns out, this John Moraga guy didn't come to the big show to be a stepping stone.
Chris Cariaso: 14- 3 MMA, 4-1 UFC
John Moraga: 11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC
What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Cariaso: "Kamikaze" made good on his UFC Flyweight debut this past July by beating up Josh Ferguson for fifteen minutes. Before that he was taking care of everyone they put across the cage from him in the Bantamweight division aside from Renan Barao and Michael MacDonald, two men who are considered by many to be the top two 135'ers in the world today.
Moraga: He's won his last five fights, four by way of finish since being beaten by current #1 contender John Dodson on the now infamous Nemesis Fighting card in Punta Cana.
Cariaso: Takeya Mizugaki, Vaughan Lee, Will Campuzano
Moraga: Ulysses Gomez
Cariaso: "Kamikaze" is a +150 as it stands today. While Moraga is coming off a huge win in his UFC debut, Cariaso is the more accomplished fighter. This isn't a bad line at all. I'd take it on straight up or even put it in some of my parlays and not feel completely awful about it. Personally, I'm not touching this fight though. Way too close to call on paper in my eyes. That's just me.
Moraga: The Arizona based fighter is a -185 favorite heading into Saturday nights Facebook prelim opener. I wouldn't touch it unless you are 100% confident in Moraga and want a couple extra bucks on a parlay.
Whats at Stake?
Cariaso: Benavidez and McCall already had their shots at "Mighty Mouse" in 2012. A win for Cariaso over the new hotness in the division in impressive fashion could make him next in line. He's been around long enough, and he has just as big a name as any other Flyweight out there not named Joseph or Ian. A loss doesn't put him at the back of the line, but it also doesn't do him any favors. This is a big fight for Cariaso at 125, he lost a heartbreaker to MacDonald back at UFC 130 and has really put it together since. This is probably his last chance at putting his name in the UFC title shot hat.
Moraga: The NCAA Division I wrestler needs a really competitive fight here. Of course he wants to win, but if he manages to go the distance with Cariaso, the 28-year-old's future in the Flyweight division wouldn't take as big a hit as Cariaso's. Now, if Moraga can beat Cariaso on the other hand in any way, shape or form - it catapults him to the very top of the division right alongside McCall and Benavidez.
Moraga's wrestling pedigree and stellar takedown defense make it hard to bet against him. The crafty vet Cariaso is one of those guys who can beat just about anyone, except for the big dogs. While it remains to be seen if Moraga is a future title contender in this sport, a win over Cariaso Saturday night puts him on the fast track. Is Cariaso a contender himself , or a pretender? "Kamikaze" outstrikes everyone he faces, but he isn't that proven finisher that Moraga already is in his young career. This is one of the more intriguing fights for me on this card and also one of the toughest to pick. I'll take Moraga via a statement making finish in the very 1st round.