Kai Kara-France victorious in China

City Kickboxing fighter Kai "Don't Blink" Kara-France defeated dangerous BJJ black belt Mark De La Rosa in a 3-round MMA fight last night in Shenzen, China. Afterwards, he stated his intention to fight on the upcoming UFC 243 card in Melbourne, Australia.

Kai Kara-France travelled to China to fight on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs Zhang, which culminated with China's Weili Zhang shocking the MMA world with a 42-second knockout of reigning champion Jessica Andrade to claim the women's strawweight title.

A contestant on TUF: Tournament of Champions, Kara-France made his start in the UFC in 2018, and was riding a 7-fight pro winning streak when he arrived in China. His opponent De La Rosa is known as a grappling specialist, holding the coveted rank of a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

De La Rosa's gameplan was no secret, as from the opening bell his corner was urging him to take the fight to the mat where he could implement his superior grappling. After 2 minutes of the first round, Kara-France found himself against the cage fighting off the takedown. He managed to escape, though, and hoisted De La Rosa into the air with a high crotch grip to slam him to the canvas and lay on some ground-and-pound before getting back to his feet.

The iron sprawl of Kara-France remained impenetrable for the remainder of the fight, despite De La Rosa's repeated takedown attempts. The stand-up battle which ensued was closely-fought, with Kara-France advancing looking for the knockout blow and De La Rosa displaying crisp boxing of his own. Early in round 2, Kara-France uncorked a ferocious right hand which landed flush to the chin and sat De La Rosa down on the canvas. Shortly after this, a slashing leg kick swept De La Rosa to the canvas again. De La Rosa had some success of his own, bloodying the face of Kara-France in round 2, but his blows did not have the same impact.

Half-way through the 3rd round, Kara-France crashed his left shin into the body of De La Rosa, who tried to hide the pain of the liver shot but could not help retreating. Kara-France smelt blood, surging forth with blistering hand speed and laying a beatdown on De La Rosa as he hunted the finish. targeting the liver to draw the guard and set up punches, an elbow, and a flying knee to the head of De La Rosa, opening up a gash above his eye.

De La Rosa was unbowed, waving on the ruckus, coming forward strongly with his own offense until the closing bell, but the biggest moments of the fight comprised Kara-France landing damage. The judges agreed, awarding a unanimous decision to Kara-France after 3 rounds of action.

In his post-fight interview, Kara-France called out Alexandre Pantoja for a fight on the UFC 243 card in 5 weeks' time. The two fought on TUF: Tournament of Champions, with Pantoja taking the decision victory. It would be a quick turnaround for Kara-France after last night's war, but the UFC is likely to stack UFC 243 with as many ANZAC's as possible.

Now victorious in his last 8 professional fights, Kara-France will surely have title aspirations. Perhaps one day to challenge his former TUF coach: Henry Cejudo for the 125lb belt. When asked about this he stated:

"One more win... it will be hard to deny me. Especially the momentum and exposure that New Zealand, Australia, the ANZAC's are getting ...I could be the face of this flyweight division"

Let's hope we see the Kara-France continue his win streak in Melbourne on October 6th.

Written by Harry Greenfield

Harry Greenfield is New Zealand Fighter’s Executive Editor. Residing in Christchurch, he has a passion for combat sports, especially MMA, and is our man on the scene down south.

Promoters wishing to contact Harry can reach him at: harry@nzfighter.co.nz