by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
As the 135-pound division slowly but surely grows in popularity, so does the exposure of some of its top fighters.

Spearheaded by World Extreme Cagefighting 135-pound champ Miguel Torres, veterans like Antonio Banuelos and rising talents such as Mark Oshiro, there’s an emerging crop of bantamweight fighters that are showing that while they may be in one of the lightest weight classes, they are by no means light on excitement, talent and charisma.

Among the group of up and coming talent looking to make a name for themselves in the division is Strikeforce veteran Chris Carasio.

Well known for his Muay Thai skills, Carasio has come on of late, showcasing a wide variety of skills, especially in his last fight, a dominating win over Cung Le student Anthony Figueroa at this past Friday’s Strikeforce event in San Jose, Calif.

“I definitely feel good,” he said about Friday night’s performance. “I feel like I got to go out and show a different side of my game that I’ve been working on, so it was definitely exciting to do that.”

With the win, Cariaso gets back on track after suffering the first loss of his MMA career this past March to the aforementioned Mark Oshiro at ShoXC.

“It was certainly super-important,” he said about returning to the win column. “Especially to go against a guy that I’ve beaten in the past, I definitely wanted to go out there and kind of get back on the horse.”

According to Cariaso, rather than just put the loss behind him, he used it to learn and applied that knowledge to his win over Figueroa in Strikeforce.

“I think after the ShoXC fight I kind of just went out there and got a little bit reckless, so this fight I wanted to go out and fight with a tight game plan,” he commented.

“I definitely got to show a different side of my game with the grappling and stuff. I can fight on the ground, as well as standing up. I think by the end of this year everybody will know that I’ve got the whole package.”

Raising his record to 7-1, Cariaso has his sights set on earning his way to a title shot by staying busy throughout the remainder of this year.

“I want to get in there and start finding some more fights,” he said. “This was only my second fight of the year, so I want to get at least two or three more fights this year.

“Eventually I want to get back in there and avenge my loss to (Mark) Oshiro; that’s my next step in this division. (Then with) three or four more fights I think I’ll definitely be ready to go for some sort of title.”

As fans continue to see that there is an abundance of talented, exciting fighters in the lower weight classes, the opportunities for fighters such as Chris Cariaso to shine will increase, making for a great situation for fans and fighters alike.

“I’d like to thank ShoYoRoll, Purified Soul, Fight Freak, Clinch Gear, NorCal Scion and all my training partners,” closed out Cariaso.

“Thanks to all the fans who came out to see me fight; and keep posted on me, because I’ll definitely be making a big splash the rest of this year.”