UFC flyweight contender Kai Kara-France is used to having his potential doubted and underestimated, something he’s feeling again ahead of UFC 277.
At the July 30 pay-per-view, Kara-France will have his first championship opportunity inside the Octagon, a chance he’s earned through three consecutive victories over Rogério Bontorin, Cody Garbrandt, and Askar Askarov.
While the promotion appeared to be targeting a fourth bout between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo, an injury for the reigning champion has led to the creation of interim gold, a decision that Kara-France will look to take full advantage of when he shares the cage with the Mexican for the second time next month.
Through his active win streak, and much of his career, Kara-France has been branded as the underdog. That trend has continued as he heads towards his Dallas-held title shot, with BetOnline.ag currently having “Don’t Blink” at +175, while former champion Moreno sits as a -205 favorite.
For Kara-France, being doubted is nothing new, and takes him back to his school days, during which he was often bullied about his size, as he described during a recent UFC press conference in Sydney, Australia.
“Man, it’s kind of triggering. It brings me back to when I was in high school getting bullied for my height,” said Kara-France. “I guess getting overlooked, underestimated. But man, this kid’s got a lot of fight in him, and that’s what Moreno will be seeing. It’s a dogfight and I’ve just got to make it that.”
Having proved his early detractors wrong by forging a successful career in mixed martial arts, one that’s brought him within touching distance of UFC championship glory, Kara-France now encourages the doubt, suggesting it “fuels” him to be better.
“I don’t care. If you doubt me, it just fuels me. It just fuels me even more. So, I was born to do this,” Kara-France continued. “I can’t wait to get in there and shut up all the doubters and spoil the party. So Moreno, don’t blink baby.”
When Kara-France makes the walk on July 30, he’ll be doing so to share the cage with a man whose faced similar adversity and doubts. When the pair first collided in 2019, “The Assassin Baby” was making his second appearance since re-signing with the UFC after being released a year prior.
While the New Zealander came up short against Moreno on that occasion, he’ll look to follow the underdog path that the Mexican paved in his subsequent appearances this time around by winning the interim strap and successfully unifying it against Figueiredo.
Do you think Kai Kara-France has what it takes to win the interim title at UFC 277?