Saturday, September 26th
UFC Fight Island – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
With 15 wins in their last 17 combined, Kai Kara-France and Brandon Royval meet in a striker vs. grappler contest between men in form. Elevated to the main card of a huge event in only his second UFC appearance, can Royval overcome his more experienced opponent?
Kai Kara-France (21-8-0, 1NC) is the former KOZ flyweight champion and appeared on The Ultimate Fighter series 24 but did not make it to the finale. Instead, the New Zealander made his UFC debut in 2018 and is now 4-1 in the promotion with all of his bouts going to a decision.
Kara-France’s last fight was a unanimous decision victory in which he won every round against Tyson Nam in New Zealand in February. Nine of Kara-France’s last ten fights have ended in victory (only losing to Brandon Moreno at UFC 245 by unanimous decision) and “Don’t Blink” has 12 finishes in 21 professional wins – 10 coming in the very first round.
At 5 feet 4 inches tall, Kara-France is five inches shorter than Royval but holds a slight reach advantage, and has had twice as many professional bouts despite being a year younger. With a background in kickboxing, I expect Kara-France to try and avoid being taken down and try to utilize his striking skills against his opponent.
Brandon Royval (11-4) is the former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion. The American made his UFC debut in his last fight in May, beating Tim Elliott by second-round submission due to an arm-triangle choke, earning himself a Fight of the Night bonus and moving him immediately into the 125lbs rankings.
Royval has only won by decision once but all of his professional losses have come via the judges. “Raw Dawg” has ten career finishes, eight in round one and seven by submission, with triangle chokes and armbars his favored submissions.
On a three-fight win streak, Royval has also only lost one of his last seven and will see this weekend as an opportunity to continue his rapid rise up the rankings in the division. To avoid Kara-France’s dangerous striking I think Royval will attempt to take the bout to the canvas and work on securing another submission.
Prediction: Royval by submission.
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