The second of three flyweight bouts featured at UFC 259 on Saturday saw Brazil’s Rogerio Bontorin go up against New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France. With the pair actually in a tie for eighth spot in the UFC’s official rankings, the bout was both about determining who the better man was, and pushing up into the top five of the division.
City Kickboxing had had a rough start to the night on Saturday, with Carlos Ulberg falling in his debut. Kara-France would be looking to get the team back in the win column to open up the televised prelims.
Kara-France pumped his jab and fired leg kicks early. Bontorin’s punches were less frequent, but had more power behind them. A body shot landed hard, and not long after, Bontorin took the fight where he wanted it — to the ground. The Brazilian took the back with ease and sunk in a rear-naked choke. Kara-France managed to fight the hands, avoiding the choke. But he couldn’t turn into the body triangle that Bontorin had employed. Kara-France seemed stuck, with over two minutes left in the frame.
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When Kai Kara-France did make it back to his feet, Bontorin was still on his back. Kara-France fought off another choke, slammed Bontorin onto his back, but still the Brazilian was on him. Another choke attempt followed; Kara-France again fought the hands.
It was almost a win in itself that Kara-France survived the sequence. It was a downright shock when Kara-France suddenly scored the knockout blow. After finally getting free of his opponent, a right hand and an uppercut by Kara-France led to a walk off KO. Kara-France, at least, walked off. Ref Herb Dean wasn’t clear about the stoppage, even as Bontorin was rolling over himself on the ground, dazed. Kara-France almost had to go back for follow-up strikes, before Dean recognized that Bontorin was not fully in the building.
With the comeback win, Kara-France lived up to his nickname, “Don’t Blink.” He also threw his name in the hat for Comeback of the year.
Official Result: Kai Kara-France def. Rogerio Bontorin by TKO, Round 1, 4:55