While UFC 155 is a showcase of the best heavyweights on the planet, the night kicks off on the opposite end of the spectrum, as flyweights John Moraga and Chris Cariaso met in a bout with heavy contendership implications.
Moraga made his UFC debut earlier this year with an upset win over former Tachi Palace flyweight champion Ulysses Gomez. By knocking out a former champion in dramatic fashion, the Mexican-American demonstrated his ability to compete on the highest level of the sport.
The man standing across from him has a bit of momentum in his own right. Cariaso has won his last three fights and also four of his last five. This will be his second bout since dropping to 125 pounds earlier this year.
Moraga used aggression and well-timed counter striking to control most of the action, but Cariaso had several solid moments through the fight. The finish came in the third round when Moraga used a modified guillotine choke to secure the tapout.
What we'll remember about this fight
The slick choke that was used to end the fight by Moraga. With Cariaso fighting out of the guillotine position, Moraga pressed his opponents forehead into his chest while utilizing a D'arce choke's grip.
What we learned about John Moraga
He can take some brutal strikes without flinching. In the second round, Cariaso landed a flush head kick that would have sent most fighters into a coma. Moraga was seemingly unphased by the attack.
He is fearless inside the Octagon. Through the fight, he pushed the pace relentlessly. Ironically, the corner of Cariaso told their fighter, "He's afraid of you," between rounds as a way to motivate their fighter into a more aggressive style.
What we learned about Chris Cariaso
The move to flyweight was certainly the best thing for him. Despite taking the loss in this contest, it's a move that we have to credit, as he was undersized even in a division 10 pounds smaller than usual.
What's next for John Moraga
Moraga is now 2-0 in the UFC's flyweight division, and his only career loss came at the hands of top contender John Dodson. The next man standing across the cage should be a high-profile opponent who also has momentum on his side like Louis Gaudinot or Darren Uyenoyama.
What's next for Chris Cariaso
Cariaso isn't the first prospect in the flyweight division to take a heartbreaking loss. He falls into a category that includes the likes of Jussier Formiga and Yasuhiro Urushitani. A bout with either man would make sense.