10 Dec 2018

UFC: Kai Kara-France happy to move divisions to continue career

2:46 pm on 10 December 2018

UFC Flyweight Kai Kara-France says with the flyweight division at risk of being cut from the organisation he is more than happy to move up to bantamweight.

France winning fight via knock out on the UFC series 'The Ultimate Fighter'

France winning fight via knock out on the UFC series 'The Ultimate Fighter' Photo: Facebook - Kai Kara France

New Zealand's first UFC flyweight fighter Kai Kara-France is on cloud nine after a debut win in Adelaide a fortnight ago but his big break has been hit again by adversity with rumours that his division is at risk of being cut.

Kara-France impressed with a unanimous decision win over Mexican Elias Garcia and has been quickly summoned again by matchmakers to appear on Melbourne's UFC 234 in February alongside teammate Israel Adesanya against Brazilian Raulian Paiva.

But recent calls for the 125 pound division to be removed have been distracting.

The departure of long time champion Demetrius Johnson who last month accepted a contract with Asia's ONE Championship promotion following his title loss to current champion Henry Cejudo is said to be part of the reasoning.

Within the last month seven flyweights have been ejected after losses, the latest being Ben Nguyen an Australian-based fighter who featured regularly on Australian and New Zealand cards.

The 25-year-old admits that putting on a spectacle to show the relevance of the division has played on the back of his mind.

"Everyone kept asking me what my plans were before my fight but I've got a fight, that's out of my control," says Kara-France

"I've got an opponent I've got to do what I've got to do to get the win and I tell myself I'm just going to put on a show. I don't know if I'll be on the next show."

"It's not a weight issue to be exciting or not, it's about skillset and who wants it more."

In a bid to revitalise the division current flyweight champion Cejudo, who was Kara-France's coach in the Ultimate Fighter Series, will face bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in a super fight at UFC Fight Night in New York - the promotions first card of 2019.

Kara-France feels his fight being matched a month after this super fight says a lot about the division's future when it was touted the result of the championship matchup would determine its survival.

Cejudo is yet to defend the title against another flyweight, calling out Dillashaw immediately after winning the strap but Kara-France feels this sort of spotlight is detrimental for the UFC's lightest men's division.

"It gives it a bit more excitement and it's going to be a good matchup but I would the opportunity to fight him (Cejudo) one day too, I'm a fan but he's got the belt," says Kara-France

"I'm also a fan of TJ and commentary have said that my movement is similar to TJ and I'll take that as a compliment... I am an exciting fighter to watch."

If the flyweight division is canned Kara-France is more than comfortable to move to the bantamweight division.

The 5 foot 5 inch fighter has had 28 professional MMA fights to date - his debut win over Garcia at flyweight a rarity.

"In this fight camp I cut from 68kgs to 57 in 12 weeks so people think I'm small but I cut down to that weight class, I fought my fight at 65," says Kara-France

"My strength in fighting is my conditioning as well, at City Kickboxing we pride ourselves on that and I gave the option to the UFC I will fight where ever they want me to - I'm open to flyweight or bantamweight."

"I came into the UFC on a five fight win streak at bantamweight and I was knocking guys out at that weight class so if I fight at bantam I'm not cutting weight."

Kai Kara-France will meet Raulian Paiva on February 10th alongside fellow kiwi teammate Israel Adesanya who will fight former middleweight champion Brazilian Anderson Silva.

New Zealand-born Robert Whittaker will defend his title for the second time against fellow "Ultimate Fighter Series - Heavy Hitters" coach American Kelvin Gastelum.