UFC 234 featured a flyweight contest between New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France and Brazil’s Raulian Paiva, with Kara-France taking a split decision in front of his home crowd.
Kai Kara-France is New Zealand’s top flyweight product. He stands at 18-7 and rides a six-fight win streak into this contest at UFC 234. He appeared on the 24th season of The Ultimate Fighter and scored a 30-second knockout in his lone victory on the show. Kara-France made his promotional debut in December, earning a Fight of the Night victory over Elias Garcia.
Raulian Paiva comes into his UFC debut with an impressive 18-1 record and an appearance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. The Brazilian is on a 12-fight win streak with six finishes to his name.
Kai Kara-France took the center of the Octagon immediately before Paiva made an adjustment. With his back to the cage, Kara-France landed a hard right hand, stalked Paiva across the Octagon before landing another right hand. Paiva reacted with a takedown attempt that Kara-France resisted. Kara-France landed a slick combination featuring hooks from both sides as Paiva looked to establish kicks.
Kara-France cracked Paiva once again with a right hand, but Paiva continued to move forward. Paiva was able to land a combination, but his offensive effectiveness was limited in the first round.
Kai Kara-France started the second round with a takedown in response to a few kicks from Paiva. However, Kara-France could not secure the takedown, and Paiva took top position. Kara-France rolled out and stood up, but Paiva pushed him to the fence. Kara-France broke free and landed a left hand on the exit. The kicks began to add up for Paiva, as a low kick visibly hurt Kara-France, allowing Paiva to force Kara-France to the ground. Kara-France ate some low kicks then stood up and landed a hard right hand. Paiva began to control the stand-up as the round came to a close.
Paiva started the final round working with his kicks, but one landed too low unfortunately. Kara-France took some time to recover, and both fighters started throwing big shots as action resumed. Kara-France shook things up with a takedown attempt, but Paiva countered with a guillotine attempt. After standing up, Kara-France found a home for his left hand, landing multiple hooks. Paiva landed a counter-shot of his own, but Kara-France put a stamp on his performance with a driving takedown as time expired.
Kai Kara-France def. Raulian Paiva by Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)