Amir Albazi claims a close split decision win over Kai Kara-France at UFC Vegas 74, potentially setting himself up for a flyweight title challenge in the future.
Amir Albazi wants his shot at gold after pulling off a razor-close split decision win over Kai Kara-France in the UFC Vegas 74 main event. It was a back-and-forth battle throughout with Albazi coming closest to a finish with a near submission finish in the third round while Kara-France was seemingly faster and more accurate on the feet. Still, Albazi was not afraid to throw down in those striking exchanges with several power punches connecting, which seemed to make the difference on the scorecards. Two judges gave Albazi the fight with 48-47 scores while the third judge gave the same 48-47 score to Kara-France. That was still enough for Albazi to get the win as he remains undefeated in the UFC while notching his sixth consecutive win in a row overall.
“I know it was a close fight,” Albazi said following the win. “It’s not how I planned this fight to go. I showed my guts. I showed what I can bring to the table. I’m just having fun, maybe a bit too much fun. Next time I come in, I like to put on finishes. A win is a win but next time I’ll put on a better show.” Forward aggression was Albazi’s game plan throughout the fight as he sought to control the center of the octagon but Kara-France was quick on his feet, which allowed him to bounce away and fire counters from the outside. While Albazi was throwing with a lot of heat behind his punches, Kara-France displayed superior hand speed and he was also mixing in some well-timed calf kicks to slow his opponent down.
As Albazi kept pressuring Kara-France towards the fence, he was looking to land punches, which would then allow him to set up takedowns. To his credit, Kara-France was able to resist Albazi’s wrestling through the first 10 minutes but it was only a matter of time before the fight hit the floor. The first real grappling exchange came in the third round when Albazi scrambled to put Kara-France on the canvas where he began looking for a dominant position. Albazi eventually advanced to take the back and he got his arm under the chin to nearly lock on the rear-naked choke submission.
There were several moments where Kara-France had a grimace on his face and it appeared he might be done but he found a way to resist until he finally broke free before actually reversing positions. Kara-France even hammered Albazi with a couple of elbows before the fighters returned to their corners but the New Zealand native had to feel a momentum shift during that five-minute session. A reset to start the fourth round saw Kara-France re-establish himself with more calf kicks and the fast combinations with his hands as he looked to continue his pattern of landing with better volume. Albazi came back at him with power shots, which was really the story of the fight whenever the flyweights were trading strikes on the feet. Albazi also continued pushing the pace for the takedowns, which forced Kara-France to play defense to prevent the potential for another disastrous grappling exchange. While Kara-France was consistently able to resist going back to the canvas for more than a few seconds, Albazi threatening with his wrestling may have done enough to secure the victory in a very close contest.
While it wasn’t necessarily the statement he wanted to make, Albazi still got the biggest win of his career over an established contender in Kara-France, which now puts him to potentially challenge for the title in the near future. In fact, Albazi already has a date in mind as he awaits the winner of the upcoming flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 290 in July. “There is only one thing I want,” Albazi shouted. “I will get that title. That’s all that matters. Abu Dhabi, Oct. 21, I know they’re coming to Abu Dhabi, that’s my people. Give me that fight, [Alexandre] Pantoja-[Brandon] Moreno, whoever wins that fight, I want to be next. I’m next. Let’s go.”