Kiwi Kai Kara-France wanted a statement win at UFC Shenzhen on Saturday night – and he did exactly that, negotiating a game Mark De La Rosa for his most comprehensive UFC victory to date.
The 26-year-old Aucklander produced a head-turning display of diverse striking, using his speed to win the scrambles and repel the American’s takedown attempts on his way to a third consecutive victory in the Octagon.
‘Don’t Blink’ lived up to his nickname, dropping De La Rosa in the second round with a heavy overhand right that would’ve put weaker chins to sleep, then dipping into his full kit of kicks through a high-tempo contest to make the rest of the division sit up further and take notice.
And as he’d spelled out before the fight, ‘Don’t Blink’ wasted no time campaigning to be added to the UFC 243 card – along with City Kickboxing stablemates Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker – and singling out an old foe for a chance at revenge.
“Pretty much everyone that’s in front of me, I’ve got eyes on,” Kara-France said afterwards. “But you know what fight really speaks out to me – it’s Alexandre Pantoja.”
“If he’s not injured, I’d love to have a quick-turnaround fight in five weeks in Melbourne.”
The Brazilian got the better of Kara-France during their time on The Ultimate Fighter reality show, prevailing in a quarter-final match-up, via unanimous decision.
Currently ranked fourth in the UFC’s official divisional standings, Pantoja is the only fighter in the top five without a fight booked, making him the perfect fit for a showdown at the likely history-making event in Melbourne next month.