UFC veteran Chris Cariaso welcomed Vaughan Lee to the UFC by beating him in front of his home-town crowd. Lee came into the fight known as a dangerous submission fighter but Cariaso ended up dominating the fight on the ground and Lee was lucky to get away without being submitted himself.
This fight was another installment in the UFC's quest to find British talent that can survive and thrive in the Octagon. Cariaso was the pefect test for the British Lee, being a UFC veteran with a solid albeit unspectacular 2-2 record fighting for Zuffa.
Unfortunately for British MMA, Cariaso survived a tough first round and went on to dominate Lee through the second and third, taking a split decision.
Cariaso couldn't break free of Lee's clinch though and the bantamweight was soon back on his back. Then the Facebook stream froze and when it returned, they were back on their feet in central cage, fighting at distance. Lee quickly forced the action back into the cage.
In the second, Lee once again scored at a distance before forcing the clinch. He didn't manage to get Cariaso down though and Cariaso scored with a flurry of punches when they separated. Then he landed a sharp left and took Lee down. After a moment or two, Cariaso got full mount in the center of the cage. Lee fought for a hip escape and drew applause from his home town crowd.
Cariaso quickly passed to side mount though and landed a couple of sharp elbows to Lee's face before going back to mount. Lee again hip escaped out of trouble but couldn't get off his back before the round ended.
Cariaso scored first with punches in the third. Lee answered with a head kick then forced Cariaso back into the cage. Cariaso reversed position and took Lee down with a single leg. Once on the ground he again transitioned from guard to side control to mount and then took Vaughan Lee's back. Lee managed to fend off a rear naked choke attempt but ended up mounted at the end of the exchange. Lee gave up his back a second time then rolled out of it but couldn't escape being in an awful position.
After threatening an arm triangle Cariaso began to rain down hard elbows on Lee's temple when the Facebook stream went out briefly. When the stream returned, Cariaso was again on Lee's back landing punches and ended the fight working for a choke.
The judges ruled it a split decision in favor of Cariaso.
Chris Cariaso (11-3, 1-1 UFC) and Vaughan Lee (11-6-1, 0-0 UFC) opened the UFC 138 preliminaries in a bantamweight fight streamed live on Facebook. In addition to his UFC experience, Cariaso split a pair of WEC bouts. Lee was 5-0-1 since 2009.