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Kai Kara-France trains at the host hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)
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Kai Kara-France Hits Different

Power-Punching Flyweight Plans To Finish Askar Askarov At UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus

At UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus, Kai Kara-France will compete in the biggest bout of his career against undefeated Askar Askarov. The fact that the New Zealander is currently a big betting underdog doesn’t worry him one bit. In fact, he welcomes it.

“I’ve always been the underdog,” explains Kara-France. “It fuels me. Look what happened to Cody in my last fight. People shouldn’t underestimate or overlook me.”

Of course, he’s talking about his spectacular first-round finish of Cody “No Love” Garbrandt at UFC 269.

Many suggested he would be outgunned and outmatched against the American. Instead, the man they call “Don’t Blink” lived up to his moniker and displayed a knockout ability not often seen in the flyweight division.

Kai Kara-France of New Zealand punches Cody Garbrandt in their flyweight bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Kai Kara-France of New Zealand punches Cody Garbrandt in their flyweight bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Kai Kara-France of New Zealand punches Cody Garbrandt in their flyweight bout during the UFC 269 on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“It was great showcasing my power and beating a former champ. I went through adversity and got the win. It gives you a lot of confidence. And it’ll be no different with this guy – I’ll find the targets and put him away.”

The bout with Askarov will be Kara-France’s ninth trip to the Octagon, and it’s fair to say he has looked more comfortable each time. The fight will also coincide with the Kiwi’s 29th birthday.

Watch UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus On ESPN+

“I seem to be always fighting around my birthday,” he notes. “Turning 29 is pretty crazy. I remember being in high school and not knowing what to do with my life.Now, I’m in the UFC and ranked as one of the best fighters in the world. I’ve worked hard to get here. It hasn’t just been an eight-week camp – it’s been a 10-year camp!”

With two consecutive finishes against quality opponents, both of which earned him a Performance of the Night bonus, Kara-France has definitely gained some attention. A win against Askarov might even put him in line for a title shot. 

Kai Kara-France trains at the host hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)

Kai Kara-France trains at the host hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on March 24, 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)


Asked why everything has been coming together so well lately, the 125-pounder says part of it is trying to be a good role-model for his son.

“The fact I’m a different fighter than I was a few years ago has a lot to do with my family,” he reflects. “I want to be the best version of myself for my son. And when you’re the best version of yourself as a father and a husband, that will transfer to the ring. If I’m not at home with my family, I’m in the gym just trying to gain that one-percent advantage.”

MORE COLUMBUS: Askar Askarov Finally Feeling Full-Strength | Fighters On The Rise | Matt Brown Is Always Looking To Do More | Aleksei Oleinik Is Fighting For Legacy

The City Kickboxing product also attributes his success to his habit of making checklists, which he uses for training sessions, career goals and life goals in general. He believes they keep him on track and accountable.

“I like to visualize things ahead of me, then make them happen. I have goals for the day, the week, the month and the year. It keeps me from getting ahead of myself. As the smaller goals get crossed off, I slowly chase down the bigger ones.

“I also keep learning as I go. The losses I’ve had in my career were lessons. I didn’t let them hurt me or stop me. That’s one difference between me and Askar – he’s never lost. I’ve suffered setbacks and had to overcome them.”

Kai Kara-France Is Riding Momentum To The Top | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus
Kai Kara-France Is Riding Momentum To The Top | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus
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Indeed, the Dagestan native is on a long unbeaten run that last saw him defeat former title challenger Joseph Benavidez. Askarov also has a draw on his resume against former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, and brings with him an intimidating grappling style. But Kara-France is excited to have the opportunity to end the streak.

Related: Fight By Fight Preview | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus

“He’s had a year to prepare, so I really hope to see the best version of him,” says the New Zealander. “I don’t want any excuses when I beat him. I want him to wrestle me, so I can show him what I’ve been working on. I want him to stand with me, so I can show him that there are levels to the striking game. He’ll realize it’s different when you get hit by me. I’m not like other flyweights. I will hurt you and put you away.”

Things certainly didn’t end well for the last two names on Kara-France’s UFC checklist, and he hopes to be crossing off another one at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus.

“Expect bad intentions and expect fireworks,” predicts the soon-to-be 29-year-old. “I’m coming to show everyone I’m one of the best in the world. The more eyes that are on me, the better. I’m coming to spoil the party.”

Anything else?

“Don’t blink.”

UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus took place on Saturday, March 26, 2022, live from a sold out Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.