A new title contender has emerged in the 125-pound division as New Zealand born Flyweight Kai “Don’t blink” Kara-France (24-9) scored his biggest career win in Columbus Ohio when he defeated #2 ranked and then-undefeated Russian fighter Askar Askarov (14-1-1) by unanimous decision.
A fight that had title implications when it was announced, many saw the potential that this fight had as both fighters are known for their relentless pressure and top tier athleticism. Askarov at the time of this fight was seen as the superior fighter due to his unblemished record as well as having a superior grappling game that had given Kai issues in the past. During the match, both fighters had their moments and split one round each. Going into the third it looked like the fighter with the most gas would come out on top and Kai did not disappoint, he fought until the end and earned the decision as well as being next in line for the title.
This victory has now given Kai 3 straight and more importantly has garnered the attention of the current champion Deiveson Figueiredo who is asking Dana White to face Kara-France instead of Moreno a 4th time. Regardless of who is the champ, Kai has more than earned his shot and showed his improvement with every fight (7-2 in UFC), while beating names like Rogerio Bontorin (1st round KO), Cody Garbrandt (1st round TKO), Askarov (UD) has put Kai in the position of a lifetime. Kai has always been known predominantly as a striker but has been working on not only his takedown defence but also how to not get controlled on the ground if taken down. While Kai may have 9 losses on his record, he has only lost twice in the UFC (Moreno UD, Brandon Royval guillotine). As a competitor, Kai seems to have the mentality of “any time, any place, anyone”.
So what’s next? Well, before the Askarov fight, Kai was ranked #9, as of today he is now #2 only behind the champ and Brandon Moreno. While many want Kai to get his shot, it would be an interesting rematch between Kai and Moreno as both fighters have come such a long way from their first fight, with Moreno having held the belt. Regardless of who Kai may face, his star keeps rising and so does his skill, at only 29 years old Kai is still coming to his peak and we could see him hold the belt in the near future.