In a first for the Nigerian-born Kiwi, UFC Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will headline the already-stacked UFC 259 card as he looks to add the light heavyweight title to his waist and achieve a feat only the very best have been able to do: become a two-division champion.
And again, "The Last Stylebender" won't be making the trip alone (location yet to be confirmed).
Seventh-ranked flyweight Kaiwhare Kara-France (21-9) is looking to make a comeback from his loss last year when he takes on No. 8 ranked Rogerio Bontorin (15-2). Meanwhile, Carlos Ulberg (3-0) will be making his official UFC debut in the light heavyweight division as he steps into the octagon with American Kennedy Nzechukwu (7-1).
City Kickboxing to start next UFC takeover! source: Instagram.com/citykickboxing
Back to scrap
The last time people saw Kai Kara-France [Ngāti Kahungunu, Waikato-Tainui] was back in September last year when he suffered a second-round submission defeat to Brandon Royval. It was a fight that almost saw Kai the winner when he dropped Royval early. However, he could not capitalise and tapped out to a guillotine hold.
Still, the loss did not deter him from signing a new four-fight contract with the UFC. "Don't Blink" will be sure to make good on his first fight back and continue to rise in the rankings against a Brazilian fighter doing the same, and he wants to approach this next match differently.
Kai Kara-France IV. Source: YouTube.com/ItsTimeForSports
In an interview with It's Time For Sports Kara-France says, "Something I can take away from my last fight is not to get caught up in the heat of the moment, pick him apart and the finish will eventually come. I want to showcase the holes that I've fixed from my last fight and just build off that."
And, with the arrival of his first child, he is fighting for more than just himself.
"What more motivation is there when you have to put food on the table and provide for your family? So that's definitely lit a fire underneath me and gives me more purpose.
"Having a family makes me think about the future and what I want to be - that's to be the world champ and show my son that anything's possible," Kara-France exclaims.
Time to shine
As for "Black Jag" Carlos Ulberg (Tainui, Te Atiawa, Hāmoa), this will be his official welcome into the UFC's light heavyweight division. Ulberg earned a UFC contract in Dana White's Contender Series back in November when he impressed the boss with a first-round knockout against opponent Bruno Oliveiria.
"Black Jag" lands the big left hook! Source: facebook.com/ufc
The multiple King in The Ring winner's KO was almost enough to wow UFC President Dana White out of his seat. But even in victory Carlos was a critic of his performance with "a lot of time for improvements" in his post-fight interview.
With a few months since that win, Carlos now looks to the most important fight of his professional career.
Carlos Ulberg IV. Source: YouTube.com/ItsTimeForSports
Asked how he has prepared for opponent Nzechukwu, Carlos says, "I've done a little bit of research, just enough for me to base off his tendencies, his strengths and his weaknesses."
He also showed his excitement about being on one of the most stacked cards in UFC history. "I'm happy that I get to fight on this massive card that Izzy is leading.
"I'm excited for this whole event. It's going to be massive, and I'm preparing myself pretty well. I'm oozing with confidence."
As for Adesanya, the feat to become a two-division champion will be as tough as it can be. Current light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz has danced in the cage for 13 years professionally, and has shown time and time again why he is nicknamed "Polish Power".
Rise of Jan Blachowicz. Source: YouTube.com/ufc
Though there is a 10kg difference in weight classes and noticeably a difference in size as well, it's not something that Izzy seems worried about. In an interview with Combat TV he says, "I'm stronger than people think. You can ask any of my opponents and they'll tell you 'Oh yeah he's stronger than he looks.' 'He looks skinny. You're too skinny bro.' And then when they meet me, they're like 'Oh S***!"
Adesanya isn't even too worried about 'Polish Power' himself. "I've had Brazilian power, I felt that Cuban power, I felt that Aussie power, whatever else power there is. It's the same narrative they all had. It's nothing different; it's the same s***."
Israel Adesanya IV. Source: YouTube.com/CombatTV
With a fighter oozing with confidence, another fighting for his son and a champ looking to make history, City Kickboxing will take over the UFC once again on March 7, New Zealand time.