Friday, August 19, 2022

Adesanya & Hooker Send Moreno A Warning Ahead Of UFC 277

UFC flyweight contender Kai Kara-France has received some firm backing from teammates Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker ahead of his rematch with Brandon Moreno this weekend.

Moreno and Kara-France previously collided at UFC 245 in 2019. While the bout represented the Mexican’s second since he was re-signed by the promotion following a release, it marked the New Zealander’s fourth under the UFC banner.

The pair virtually went strike-for-strike across three rounds, with Moreno ultimately having his hand raised by way of unanimous decision.

Since that bout, both men have found immense success. While “The Assassin Baby” fought his way to the title and shocked the world by submitting Deiveson Figueiredo, “Don’t Blink” has ridden three consecutive wins over Rogério Bontorin, Cody Garbrandt, and Askar Askarov to the #2 spot in the division.

Ahead of him in the rankings is his 2019 rival Moreno, who lost the belt in a trilogy fight versus Figueiredo earlier this year. But with “Deus Da Guerra” sidelined through injury until the end of the year, the UFC has created an interim belt, which will be fought for this weekend in a rematch that promises fast-paced action throughout.

While Moreno got the better of Kara-France a few years back, a few of the New Zealander’s closest compatriots have warned the Mexican to expect a very different version of the Auckland-based 29-year-old come July 30.

Adesanya/Hooker Predict A Rough Night For Moreno

In a video uploaded to Israel Adesanya’s YouTube channel, the UFC middleweight champion and promotional veteran Dan Hooker broke down the upcoming UFC 277 pay-per-view card.

The pair train alongside Kara-France at New Zealand’s City Kickboxing gym, and like Adesanya, “Don’t Blink” is looking to bring UFC gold back to the renowned facility, something both “The Last Stylebender” and “The Hangman” are backing him to do.

Speaking on Kara-France’s evolution, Adesanya noted the moment when he saw something “switch” in the mindset of the flyweight contender. With that ever-increasing level of self-belief, the 185-pound king suggested that his teammate will secure a “dominant” victory in Dallas this Saturday.

“I don’t think I was there for their first fight, but I remember watching it. It was a very competitive fight,” Adesanya said. “The thing I remember was Kai — I think it was the third round was the only one I had Kai being touched up, and Moreno had this momentum going… Since the Cody fight, or just before, I saw something in Kai change… Something switched in him man.

“Now, he talks and you see it, he believes what he’s saying. He believes who he is… I’m going Kai in this one. Kai, and I’m gonna say it’ll be a dominant Kai victory, put it that way. I think Moreno might still be — he’s a smart guy and I like Moreno as a fighter and a person — I just don’t think right now, where Kai’s at, he can’t be f*cked with,” Adesanya added.

CKB’s lightweight standout Hooker sent a similar warning to Moreno, insisting that the modern iteration of Kara-France is massively improved from the one the former champ shared the Octagon with in 2019.

With that, “The Hangman” predicted that Kara-France, whom he branded the fittest person he’s ever trained with, will make Moreno “look silly” in the UFC 277 co-main event.

“There’s been a massive change in Kai since that fight. Obviously, I feel he won the first round, and then Brandon started to come over,” Hooker said. “But I feel like, since The Ultimate Fighter, since this Moreno fight, where Moreno kind of was like, in the second and third round, bit down and stayed busy, just went into a bit of a bully mode. But I feel like the Kai that was fighting then and the Kai that is fighting now is completely different.

“He’s now had a kid and got a wife. Once you’re in that kind of position in life, people can’t come along and bully you… He’s a man now… fighting for something different,” Hooker added. “He’s the fittest guy I’ve ever trained with… It’ll be the first round of the first fight, but that for five rounds. I think he just makes Moreno look silly. He’s too fit, too composed, too confident in what he’s doing. He’s unstoppable right now.”

Moreno has been doubted before, notably prior to his first fight against Figueiredo, which came off the back of some truly dominant victories for the Brazilian over Joseph Benavidez and Alex Perez.

While his brief championship run and memorable crowning last June has brought him global notoriety and the favorite status heading into his interim-title challenge, “The Assassin Baby” will still have some people to prove wrong this time around — a group that certainly includes the UFC middleweight champion and #13-ranked lightweight.

How do you think the UFC 277 co-main event between Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France will play out?

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