With Deiveson Figueiredo sidelined due to injury, the UFC opted to whip up an interim flyweight belt, with Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France competing for the hardware Saturday at UFC 277.
The belt itself hardly seemed necessary, but felt more like a consolation prize for Moreno, who was to have been featured in a fourth fight with Figueiredo after losing his title back to the Brazilian in January.
Their career series was tied, 1-1-1. Moreno and Kara-France? Moreno won the pair’s first meeting in 2019, meaning the UFC could have another trilogy on their hands after Saturday.
That didn’t happen. Instead, it’s onward towards Moreno-Figueiredo 4, after a thrilling co-main event.
There was lots of feeling out in the opening minutes of the UFC 277 co-main event between Brandon Moreno and Kai Kara-France. Moreno would land a head kick that was blocked about two minutes in, but nearly slipped off it. Moreno found a home for his left hand; about half a minute later, Kara-France did the same with his right. That led to some clinch work, with Kara-France managing to stay up and separate after a Moreno takedown attempt.
Moreno then moved in with a combo, finishing with a kick to the body. In round two, things got a little more active, but when Moreno ducked a kick, he was able to take the back. From there, he wore on Kara-France by the fence, and landed an elbow. But Kara-France escaped back to center and connected with a leg kick — several of which would land for the City Kickboxing fighter throughout the round.
Round three saw Moreno planted on his back early care of a sweep, but he immediately threw up a high guard. Moreno still took some damage however, with a cut opening under one eye off an elbow, then ate some more shots scrambling up. Back on his feet, Moreno fanned on a spinning back fist. Just as it seemed Kara-France was taking over, however, Moreno landed a left hand, then a cracking kick to the body! Kara-France went down, and Moreno followed up with ground n’ pound. Kara-France covered up, and ref Herb Dean finally moved in to make the save — giving Moreno the interim flyweight title, and a fourth date with Deiveson Figueiredo.
— UFC (@ufc) July 31, 2022
Following the win, Deiveson Figueiredo was brought into the cage — with Moreno saying he would be an example to his daughter, family, and the world, and apologizing for some past comments that had offended the champ. Figueiredo in turn said that it was Moreno’s night, and raised his hand in victory. A great showing of respect between the two champions. Hatchet buried, it sounds like Moreno-Figueiredo 4 is a go — with Figueiredo asking for the fight to be in Brazil.
— UFC (@ufc) July 31, 2022
Official Result: Brandon Moreno def. Kai-Kara-France by TKO (body kick and punches), Round 3, 4:34