Kara-France wins big over undefeated Askarov in UFC Colombus

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis
Credit: ESPN / UFC Fight Night

His meteoric rise through the UFC flyweight division continues as Kai Kara-France moments ago overcame previously undefeated Russian, Askar Askarov, in UFC Fight Night Colombus, Ohio.

It's an emphatic victory for the Ngāti Kahungunu fighter that will put him in the top five UFC flyweights in the world, and it happened on his 29th birthday.

Riding off his December knockout victory over Cody Garbrandt, a fierce Kara-France entered the octagon as the underdog and walked out the victor.

Early on in the first round, Kara-France carried Askarov on his back, with the Dagestan native wrestler trying to get the Aotearoa fighter in a chokehold, while locking him in a body triangle with his legs. Numerous attempts were made to get his arms under Kara-France’s neck, but the Kiwi kept his cool, took some hits from behind and made it through the first round.

The second round began with more strikes from Kara-France, while Askarov got one more takedown on the #6 ranked flyweight. After a second takedown was defended well by Kara-France, the Ngāti Kahungunu fighter unleashed a flurry of straights, hooks and jabs that got the Colombus crowd into a raucous cheer to end the second.

Both fighters got the crowd cheering again at the start of the third, but Aksarov landed an accidental low blow. After a minute of rest, Kara-France went back on the offensive with a wicked body kick and a low sweep to knock Askarov to the ground. Kara-France shrugged Askarov off his back again and went back to the stand-up, showing off his wrestling defence and strike dominance.

With the fight ending as a fan favourite, ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced to fight fans a unanimous 29-28 decision win to… “KAI ‘DON’T BLINK’ KARA-FRANCE!”

Speaking with cage-side commentator Daniel Cormier post-fight, Kara-France asked the Ohio crowd if they liked his performance to which they responded with cheers.

"I come from City Kickboxing, but we wrestle. We were well prepared for what was to come, Askarov's a tough opponent, high-level wrestling, but this is mixed martial arts, and you've gotta entertain," Kara-France said.

With a possible fourth Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figuerido fight on the cards for the flyweight title soon, 'Don't Blink' wants the next title shot after that.