On Saturday, January 22, the UFC will be at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas raising money and awareness for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. “Fight For The Troops” will air on Spike TV at 6pm with local fighter Chris Cariaso on the card fighting Will Campuzano.
Chris Cariaso is a professional fighter, trainer, business owner, and father of two. He has fought for EliteXC, Strikeforce, and most recently in the WEC. He began training Muay Thai under Bunkerd Faphimai at only 11 years old. After a successful BMX career (where he earned the nickname “Kamikaze”) he moved to San Francsico, and trained under Bunkerd and Alex Gong at Fairtex. After Alex’s tragic death in 2003, Bunkerd and Chris struck out on their own and started Fight And Fitness. Chris continued to fight and win championships in boxing, muay thai, and MMA, and is now entering the biggest of stages… the UFC.
On his final full day of training, I was able to hang out and photograph Chris and talk about the fight.
A professional fighter usually has a few months in between fights, but in this case, you have 37 days. Was this tough, or do you feel that it is an advantage?
CC: Actually, I never really got out of shape. I was back in the gym the Monday after my last fight in December. I was lucky and had no injuries. So, when I got the call I said yes. I was ready.
How has this abbreviated training gone? Any new coaches or partners?
CC: It was an easy transition back into training. I actually feel stronger now then before my last fight. With a little bit of rest. I think it was better because now I am not over trained. I have kept my same team as always, Neungsiam Samphusri from Fight and Fitness for striking, Darren Uyenoyama from FTCC for grappling and wrestling, Kurt Osiander from Ralph Gracie and Alexander Crispim for jiu jitsu, and Tim Chau for conditioning.
What are your thoughts on making your UFC debut in front of the troops at Fort Hood?
CC: I am glad to be able to fight for the troops. They are out there fighting for me, my family and my country. Now I can give back to them. I feel honored to entertain them and it is a small way that I can thank the men and women serving our country.
They are calling this fight a “must win” for Will Campuzano. Are you feeling any added pressure, or are you also feeling that this is a “must win” for Chris Cariaso?
CC: Every fight for me is a must win so nothing is different. The UFC is an amazing card to fight for and I am so glad that they added bantamweights to the promotion. I am making my debut into the UFC on Jan 22nd and I am going to prove that I belong there.