Now officially confirmed by the UFC today, Māori UFC flyweight Kaiwhare Kara-France (Waikato, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Atiawa) will have his first bout for 2023 on February 12 against No.9 ranked fighter Alex Perez.
It's No.3 vs No.5 in a flyweight bout that could determine the next challenger to the title. Kara-France's last fight happened at UFC 277 in July this year after he lost an interim title fight against Mexico's Brandon Moreno.
Several persons familiar with the matter have confirmed the news to Junkie, even though UFC has not yet released an official statement.
Perez (five wins, three losses in the UFC) is a former title challenger coming off a pair of losses, most recently to Alexandre Pantoja.
So far UFC 284 has 10 fights scheduled. It includes Brazilian Paulo Costa and Aussie-Māori fighter Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker (Ngāpuhi) finally squaring off in a middleweight fight after multiple call-offs, New Zealand heavyweight Justin Tafa making his return after over a year away from the octagon, and Kai's City Kickboxing teammate Alex Volkanovski in the main event.
Volkanovski will be looking to achieve a feat few get to do in the UFC. As the current featherweight champion, he will meet recently-crowned lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and do his best to reach double champ status.
Time is still ticking away on who else could potentially be booked for the card. Team NZ captain and lightweight fighter Dan Hooker (Ngāti Maniapoto) also expressed his interest in fighting someone across the ditch after his dominant TKO victory over Claudio Puelles at UFC 281 in New York City last Sunday.