After controversial split decision win at UFC Vegas 74, what’s next for Amir Albazi?

Aug 20, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Amir Albazi (red gloves) reacts after defeating Francisco Figueiredo (blue gloves) during UFC 278 at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC Vegas 74, we saw a pivotal matchup in the flyweight division. Former interim title challenger Kai Kara-France (24-11) was looking to bounce back as he took on surging top contender Amir Albazi (17-1).

Since making his debut inside the octagon back in 2020, Albazi had been perfect in four fights. That said, this was a massive step up in competition and one that some didn’t think he was ready for. However, he answered the doubters on Saturday night.

The first round was very close, but I personally thought Kara-France did enough with his striking to take things. The next couple of rounds were about Albazi’s grappling and control. He clearly won the second round and the third round definitely favors him.

However, the championship rounds at UFC Vegas 74 definitely favored Kara-France. Despite being on his back foot most of the time, Kara-France landed the better strikes and threw with more volume. In fact, he was landing just as much as Albazi was throwing.

When the fight ended, I thought it was a pretty clear decision for Kara-France. However, two of the judges gave the fight and the split decision win to Amir Albazi.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 74?

If you go over to MMA Decisions and if you count my scorecard, 20 of 22 media members scoring the fight gave the fight to Kara-France. There were more people who gave Kara-France the fight 4-1 than gave the fight to Albazi at all. Nevertheless, two of the people that matter gave the fight to Albazi and it goes down as a win for him.

Regardless of how the public thinks, Amir Albazi moved to 5-0 in the UFC with this win. After the fight was over, he called for a title shot. While on paper he has a good argument, it’s really hard to see him earning a title shot off that performance.

Brandon Royval fought at UFC Kansas City and brutally knocked out Matheus Nicolau. That performance earned Royval the backup opportunity for the Moreno – Pantoja title fight. A logical next fight for Albazi would be fighting Royval for a title shot, however, I think the UFC is going to move forward with Royval getting the winner of that title fight.

So, where does that leave Albazi? It leaves him in a very tough spot. If Deiveson Figueiredo wasn’t leaving the flyweight division, I’d say a fight with him makes a ton of sense to see if Albazi can get a clear win against a top contender.

However, it appears Figgy is done with 125 which leaves Albazi in a tough spot. Matheus Nicolau could be an option, but he’s coming off a loss and might be better suited for Kai Kara-France’s next fight. It might not be what Albazi wants, but perhaps the UFC looks at Manel Kape.

Kape is surging and was supposed to fight Figgy next. I could see the promotion pitching that fight to Albazi as a title eliminator in Abu Dhabi with Royval fighting the winner of Moreno – Pantoja around that same time.