I have no idea who these dudes are. What's the difference between Chris Cariaso and Edwin Figueroa? And what exactly is a Smolka?
One question at a time.
Cariaso is a much better fighter than his record indicates, and that's despite a pretty solid 16-5 record. His last four losses: Renan Barao, Michael McDonald, John Moraga, and Jussier Formiga. One is a current UFC champion, and two others have fought for a UFC title. So, yea...he's not bad. In addition, he's beaten some solid fighters, like Takeya Mizugaki.
If you clicked the link, ignore the title. Strange wording for the FOX Sports account, seeing as how you'd more likely expect such a title from a highlight video made by Smolka's mother. Yea, not sure what went wrong there.
So anyway, Smolka is a former PXC Flyweight champion. At 22, that's quite an accomplishment for an undefeated prospect. What better way to reward Smolka's potential than by baptizing him by fists and fire.
You're gonna complain about prospects not being baby sat again aren't you?
Of course. Listen, all the more power to prospects who can handle tough matchups early in the career. But at some point, the UFC needs to better structure their system. I realize it's a lot to ask...treating a sport like a sport instead of taking cues from soap operas, but it has to happen at some point. Smolka has one win the UFC, and he's fighting a guy who is coming off two wins to add to his experienced resume.
The bizarre thing is that they sort of know how to do this. Roger Huerta is a perfect example. Fans will mock him now, but Huerta was seen as the next LW superstar. Five well matched fights into his UFC career, he finally got a stiff test in Clay Guida, which he won. It was a tough, gritty performance that was likely a product of his prior experience.
Nonetheless, should be an exciting fight.
Cariaso is a +110 in some places. Good bet?
So you expect him to lose?
Its hard to say. I think Cariaso is a solid fighter who borders on being a specialist. From his southpaw stance, he throws a mean straight left and an even angrier right hook. Despite that, he only has 3 KO/TKO wins. He has decent power, but I think part of what explains the dearth of knockout wins is that he doesn't commit to combinations. He's got them in his arsenal, but he's not a guy who will wail away in ten second intervals like John Lineker. Still, his technique is solid, and his arsenal is varied beyond simply the standard one-two from his unorthodox stance.
So about this Smolka kid...
The thing I like most about Smolka is that he already has an advantage over most flyweights; the dude is massive. Oddly enough his striking is not what I like most about his game, even though it's what observers will concentrate most on.
Smolka has a very fast shot, and is able to grab an ankle with incredible swiftness nevermind for a guy who stands 5'9 at flyweight. His ability to control the fight is what will win him this bout.
He's a dynamic striker. His youth is revealed in the way he recklessly goes for flying knees, and he's all too ready to fight in the clinch.
But like many tall MMA fighters, they never quite figure out how to use their reach until later. Smolka has an odd stance where his head damn near lowers below his shoulders. When you watch his fight with Ali Cali, it didn't serve him well at all, as Ali ended landing heavy shots to the body and was able to tag him to the head as a result.
For a guy who is 22, these are the most fixable flaws.
Prognostication, por favor?
Ugh. I waver on this one. On the one hand, Chris' advantage here is that his constant attack will likely rattle Smolka's confidence. Unlike Ozkilic, Cariaso can not just weather the storm on the feet, but can easily be the one putting the pressure on his opponent.
On the other hand, Smolka's grappling is the x-factor. Like I said, his quick shot should earn him a takedown or two, especially in the later rounds. And Cariaso is a defensive liability. He's good, but gettable. I can easily see Smolka replicating what Moraga did, and like Moraga, Smolka favors chokes.
I also happen to like Ozkilic, and consider that a pretty good win.
Louis Smolka by Decision.