Just as the UFC’s flyweight division appears to be coming to an end, a heavy-hitting Kiwi looks to make a big introduction.
This weekend at UFC Adelaide Kai Kara-France makes his debut against Elias Garcia in one of the few remaining flyweight bouts scheduled in the UFC.
The City Kickboxing prospect signed to the promotion in August came later than most expected – but to him, it was only a matter of time and he’s grateful for the extra preparation.
“Everything’s sort of playing out how I thought it would,” Kara-France told EMG. “Now being in fight week in Adelaide, it’s not surreal to me ‘cause I’ve been picturing it. I should’ve been here a few years ago but it just hasn’t happened. But I haven’t taken that as a disappointment. I’ve taken that kind of as a blessing where I could mature more as a fighter and have more ring time outside the UFC, ‘cause when you make it to the big show you wanna make it count, and you want to be here for a while. So I’m blessed that it’s happened the way it has and now we’re on a five-fight win streak, the momentum’s with me, the hype’s back, yeah, I’m more than ready.
“I feel like I’m a veteran of the sport now. I’m only 25-years-old but I’ve done a lot in the sport already, fought in different countries, so you’re gonna see that experience when I step into the Octagon.”
Amassing a 17-7 record on the regional circuit, Kara-France finds confidence in being a battle-tested prospect – a sentiment his team shares.
“This is something I’ve looked forward to for a very long time; Kai fighting in the UFC,” City Kickboxing teammate Dan Hooker said. “It’s something I always knew would kinda happen, but I’m glad that it’s kinda been this long road ‘cause he’s just even more prepared now than when he was first on the The Ultimate Fighter and things like that. I feel like that Kai, to this Kai now, is a completely different fighter.”
With ten wins via knockout, Kara-France has demonstrated power which also forged his moniker “Don’t Blink”. Coupled with his dedication and other aptitudes, head coach Eugene Bareman believes he’s a rare talent in the weight-class.
“Kai is more than capable of being champion. He has a unique set of skills, he has natural power that comes with his weight, which is very rare in that division. So with those natural gifts and his work ethic, I think he can be champion,” Bareman said.
As for Sunday, Kara-France believes he’s well-prepared to put on a show.
“The finishes are there. I’m exciting. I never wanna be in a boring fight … I wanna put bums in seats. I want people to recognise that I’m on the card and get excited for that. That’s what I want to bring to the division and to the UFC. It feels amazing. This is what I’ve worked hard for.”
UFC Adelaide (UFC Fight Night 142) takes place at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, South Australia, on Sunday, December 1. The early preliminary card will air on UFC Fight Pass from 7.30am (AWST) and the preliminary and main card on Channel 10 Boss from 9am (AWST).