Kara-France: Don’t Bet On Garbrandt At UFC 269

UFC flyweight contender Kai Kara-France is confident he can upset the odds when he welcomes former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt to 125 pounds at UFC 269.

On December 11, Kara-France will be looking to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019. After building a five-fight winning streak, the New Zealander was signed by the UFC in 2018. Following a perfect 3-0 start to his career on MMA’s biggest stage, which included victories over Elias Garcia, Raulian Paiva, and Mark De La Rose, “Don’t Blink” fell to his first loss at the hands of current champion Brandon Moreno.

What followed was a period of inconsistency. Having rebounded against Tyson Nam in front of a home crowd at UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Hooker, Kara-France was submitted by Brandon Royval last September. However, the 28-year-old burst back into contention with a memorable knockout against Rogério Bontorin at UFC 259 in March this year.

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Now, looking to stake his claim for a rematch with “The Assassin Baby,” Kara-France will face former 135-pound king Garbrandt on the UFC 269 main card.

Kara-France Looks To Spoil Garbrandt’s Flyweight Debut

Garbrandt was considered one of the top men on the roster in 2016. After going 10-0 with nine knockouts, “No Love” faced Dominick Cruz, widely renowned as one of the best bantamweights of all time, for gold at UFC 207. With a five-round masterclass, Garbrandt secured his place on the division’s mountaintop.

Since then, the powerhouse has gone 1-4. Aside from a sole KO against Raphael Assunção, Garbrandt has fallen to losses against TJ Dillashaw, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font. He’ll now look to reinvent his career with a move down to 125 pounds.

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During an interview with It’s Time For Sports, Kara-France discussed what it’s like preparing to face a name as big as Garbrandt’s. The New Zealander claimed a top opponent has been long overdue.

“It’s cool when the guys that, you know, I took their style and tried to put it into my fight game and now I’ll be standing across the cage from them and getting ready to throw down… I just can’t wait to get in there. I wanna test myself against the best. I’ve been asking the UFC for a high-profile fight, so, they finally gave it to me.”

Kara-France also analysed the matchup. While he described the fight as a fan-favorite stylistic clash, “Don’t Blink” suggested Garbrandt won’t have the speed advantage he’s used to when he faces flyweights. Despite being the underdog heading into his ninth walk to the Octagon, Kara-France offered a warning to bettors looking to back “No Love.”

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“I guess if you know, you’re a fight fan, and you watch the UFC, you’ll know this is a great matchup. Just momentum and timing’s everything. A few years ago, Cody was the face of the UFC. He had everything, had the belt, and he was undefeated. He was part of that elite division where they were undefeated all the way until they got a title. But he never really evolved with his style. He just came forward, always swung; that’s like, his default. Whenever he gets hurt or gets clipped, he’ll resort back to swinging, which hasn’t worked out the best for him.

T.J. Dillashaw: I: Cody Garbrandt
Image Credit: Noah K. Murray of USA TODAY Sports

“It’s one of these fights where I don’t need to worry about getting taken down. I know he’s too stubborn to do that. He’ll rather just go out on his shield than play it safe… Stylistically, we’re a great matchup. I come forward, I like to swing and kickbox. I’ve got great cardio. He’s always had the speed advantage at bantamweight, but now coming down to flyweight, he won’t have that speed advantage because we’re all fast… People, if they’re underestimating me, don’t put money on Cody, because you’re gonna lose it.”

Both men will be looking to make their case for a title shot with an impressive performance at UFC 269. In the opening pay-per-view of 2022, Moreno is set to defend his belt in a trilogy bout against Deiveson Figueiredo. While the injured Askar Askarov certainly looks to be at the front of the queue to face the victor, a convincing win for Garbrandt or Kara-France on December 11 could be enough for them to leapfrog the undefeated Russian.

Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 269, Kai Kara-France or Cody Garbrandt?