Flyweights Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi were the beneficiaries of circumstance at UFC Vegas 74.
Originally slated to be headlined by middleweights Jack Hermansson and Brendan Allen, the cancellation of that bout saw the flyweight duo bumped up to the main event. Giving the pairing an extra two rounds to insert their name into the title conversation at 125lbs.
What unfolded in Saturday’s main event turned out to be a closely contested fight, with the decision leaving some scratching their heads.
At the start of the first round, both fighters tried to find their range. Albazi attempted to quickly get a takedown, which was nicely defended by Kai. Kai was throwing leg kicks often and early to try and slow down Amir. Both fighters landed some good shots in the round, with each landing a good combo to end the round, which led to an intense staredown after the horn.
The start of the second round saw heavy pressure from Albazi, looking to eventually mix in his grappling. Albazi was having success with his jab and pressure, but he was eating hard leg kicks from Kara France. Albazi finally shot for another takedown against the cage, and Kai defended again. Kai landed a right hand over the top, but Albazi returned a huge left hook and then landed the same left hand moments later that took Kai off-balance. Kai was having some success with the left hand to end the round. Each fighter had their moments through the first two rounds.
The third round began with some more nasty calf kicks, but Albazi got in deep on a takedown, which Kai was able to defend. Albazi shot again, got his takedown, and took the back with some ground and pound. Albazi got the body lock in and was looking to find the rear naked choke, but Kai was defending. Kai stood up, reversed the choke, and ended up in mount. Kai was landing and pounding, trying to get the round back. With a crazy round three behind us, we headed to round number four.
In Round four, the start of championship rounds, Kai came out and landed some good combinations and a huge low kick. He followed it up with a head kick, but Albazi was still marching forward. Kai was starting to find his range by picking his shots nicely. Albazi looked to take down Kai again, but Kai showed his elite defense and slipped away again. Kai Kara-France blocked a kick and looked for a takedown of his own, which would take us to the fifth and final round!
In the fifth frame, Kai started off with an overhand right and again with some leg kicks, followed by another huge right hand. Just when you thought Albazi was slowing down, he landed a takedown, but Kai got back to his feet. Kai was pushing the pace, trying to make a case for the judges. Albazi landed a good right hand, but Kara France landed back and was putting his foot on the gas. Kai was out-landing Amir quite a bit this round and picking him apart in the pocket. They finished the fight swinging, both fighters emptying the tank, and we headed to the scorecards.
What played out in the UFC Vegas 74 main event was a great fight between Amir Albazi and Kai Kara-France, but in the end, it was not enough for Kai to get the nod on the scorecards. It’s a huge win for Amir Albazi, however, as he looks to climb the ranks.
Official Result: Amir Albazi def. Kai Kara-France by split decision (47–48, 48–47, 48–47)