CALGARY, ALBERTA, CANADA – Although Bryan Caraway has only fought once in his career in the bantamweight division, the 27-year-old feels he is one of the top five fighters in the world at 135-pounds.
“I think maybe despite my performance I’m top-5 in the world,” Caraway told FightCove.com following his third-round submission victory over Mitch Gagnon on the preliminary portion of the UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao fight card.
The American endured a tough battle against Gagnon where he was stuck in the bottom position for a majority of the first round and absorbed some heavy shots at the hands of Gagnon. While the beginning of the fight may have looked like it wasn’t going as smoothly as Caraway had hoped from an outsiders perspective, Caraway says taking damage early in the fight was actually something he had planned on happening coming into the fight.
“As stupid as this sounds, that was kind of the game plan.” Caraway said of the trouble he faced against Gagnon. “I wanted him control, feel like he was winning and blow all of his energy out, but that can be a double edged sword sometimes and I got punched around pretty good for it.”
After the rough first half of the fight, Caraway quickly turned things around and began to swing the momentum of the fight in his favor. “The Ultimate Fighter” season 14 cast member controlled the fight on the ground, took Gagnon’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke for the 15th submission victory of his 17 professional wins. It wasn’t the most dominant performance of his career, but the back-and-forth nature of the contest did pocket Caraway and extra $65,000 for the “Fight of the Night”.
“I’m happy I got the win, it wasn’t my best performance but I won, so what more can I ask for.”
Caraway has had several up and downs throughout his 22-fight professional career, but feels after after all of his experience in organizations such as Strikeforce, WEC, EliteXC and the UFC along with the drop to a new weight class, he has been forced to take his career more seriously.
“Dropping to a new weight class forced me to eat perfectly and actually act like a professional athlete,” Caraway explained. “Initially (the cut) was easier than when I fought at 145, because 145 I would be kind of lazy, I’d eat what I want, do what I want until about three of four weeks (before the fight) then I would kind of crash diet, eat health and clense my body and make 145 pretty easily. At 135 it was more of a lifestyle change.’
“I felt really great,”
As far as who Caraway would like to fight next, he, like any professional fighter, wants to compete against an opponent that will help him move up the rankings towards a title shot against UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
The Washington native feels that one opponent who would help him get there is Canadian Ivan Menjivar, a fighter who has long been ranked near the top of the weight class.
“Obviously I want to fight somebody who’s going to step me up, I don’t want to fight somebody that I’m going to just fight that’s going to do nothing for my career, just another UFC guy,” he said. “I want to fight somebody that has a little flare to them, somebody that people are looking at. I think Ivan Menjivar would be a great fight, really fun he’s got a name, a couple wins and he’s building up the ladder.
“I just want to fight someone who can keep moving me towards the title, keep moving me up the ladder and just make exciting fights.”