For UFC bantamweight Chris Cariaso, this is the year he intends to make his mark in the division.
After a year where he admittedly wasn’t 100-percent where he should have been mentally, Cariaso has dedicated himself to making 2011 the kind of year he should have had before.
“I just wasn’t as focused as I should have been,” Cariaso told MMAWeekly.com. “I just had a new baby, my life was everywhere, now I’ve been able to get my life much more organized this last month and I’m going to come back a new fighter.
“I kind of changed some things up in my personal life that will allow me to be more focused during fights and make the UFC my number one priority.”
Having come off a loss to Renan Barao in December, Cariaso was asked if he feels any additional pressure to win in order to secure a spot in the post-WEC transitioned UFC.
“There’s always that pressure that I need to win and this fight is no different,” he replied. “I’ve been in the big shows and the UFC is definitely the biggest, but I have experience when the pressure is there, and I want to go out and prove I belong.”
Cariaso’s first step towards proving himself will come on Jan. 22 at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 where he takes on Will Campuzano in what should be an action-packed fight.
“I think that we both like to stand up and that’s a great thing,” stated Cariaso. “We’re both going to definitely showcase our skills there.
“I feel my grappling game is much better than his. There’s a possibility of me taking him down, putting him on his back and me taking advantage of that situation and try to submit him.”
Prior to the fight, Campuzano mentioned how he intends to use his size advantage in the fight, to which Cariaso responded, “Just about everybody I’ve ever fought has been bigger than me.
“Tall, lanky guys – that’s kind of my forte – I’ve dealt with that my whole career. Everyone’s always bigger than me, so nothing that I haven’t seen before.”
Having refocused, Cariaso is determined to make this his impact year, adding what could be another highly talented contender in the talent rich bantamweight division.
“Thanks to my sponsors: Fight and Fitness, STCC ShoYoRoll; and everybody out there supporting me,” he concluded. “It’s going to be a great show for the troops, and I want to thank them for fighting for us and keeping us safe.
“My goal this year is to hopefully get in three fights and get myself into the Top 10 of the bantamweight division.”