Bryan Caraway (18–6), did a lot on Saturday night to separate himself from his less than tactful past and get away from being known primarily as Miesha Tate's boyfriend. Stepping up on only six days notice, few (myself included) gave him any shot of beating Johnny Bedford, who entered the fight on a three fight win streak, but now sits with a record of 19–10–1.
Bedford came out swinging hard, and plugged Caraway in a few early exchanges. And maybe that was the key, because from there on out Caraway went into full grapple mode and spent much of the rest of the fight taking Bedford down and riding positional dominance, looking for strikes and submissions. While Bedford has looked good lately, he's always had a weakness against grapplers and given time, the truth will out. After two and a half rounds in hit or miss striking and grappling Caraway took control and sunk in the fight ending choke. The result: Bryan Caraway via 3rd round submission (rear naked choke).
This is a big success story for Caraway. He came in as a last minute replacement, and despite obvious fatigue, implemented his game, stayed with the fight and got the finish. You can't ask for a better performance from him given the situation, and despite a recent split decision loss to Takeya Mizugaki, it suggests that he may have a fairly bright future in the bantamweight division.
This fight contained the first of the nights many eye-pokes, and while it didn't end the fight, it's hard to say how much it impacted Bedford's performance. If nothing else it served as an omen for a card that was continually marred by unexpected injury.
For Bedford, it's the same old problems, and he's had enough fights now that the holes in his game are probably permanent. He's 2–1 in the UFC, so he's not likely to get cut, but a step down is probably a good idea. A fight against Hugo Viana would be a great test and a surefire slobberknocker.
Caraway deserves a little time off, if he wants it, and if he doesn't, a fight against T.J. Dillashaw would be a good stepping stone for either fighter on their way toward the top of the division.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Watch it later. Caraway's storyline is nice, but this wasn't a barn-burner of a fight. Neither he nor Bedford did much on the feet, and the grappling was decidedly one-sided. This was really a very poor showing for Bedford, which isn't to take away from Caraway, but detracts from the fight as entertainment.