This past Saturday on the main card of UFC Columbus, we saw a potential title eliminator in the flyweight division. Top contenders went to war as New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France (24-9) took on Dagestan’s Askar Askarov (14-1-1).
Askarov was one of the biggest betting favorites at UFC Columbus entering the bout with an unbeaten record. In his UFC career, Brandon Moreno had fought him to a draw, but he had wins over the likes of Alexandre Pantoja and Joseph Benavidez.
Now, Kara-France had been coming on strong as of late and was coming off of a win over former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt. That said, not many were picking him to come in and beat Askarov on Saturday night.
The first round couldn’t have gone better for Askarov. He was able to get his takedowns and spent a good part of the round on the back of Kara-France. A few times he got close to locking in a rear-naked choke.
However, after the first round, he really struggled to get Kara-France down. The second round was all Kara-France and the third was very competitive. I thought it could go either way, but all three judges gave the round and the fight at UFC Columbus to Kara-France.
What’s next after UFC Columbus?
As mentioned, this isn’t just Askarov’s first loss in the UFC, but it’s his first loss in his career. He hadn’t fought in over a year and he comes back to a loss in a fight where he could have earned himself a title shot.
Now, I don’t think he’s going to fall much in terms of his spot in the division. In fact, on the updated rankings, he’s still ranked third so he only dropped one spot. Perhaps if he gets a big win in his next fight, he’s right back in the conversation for a UFC title shot.
So, what should be next for Askarov? For Askarov’s next opponent, I think we move to UFC 274 and one of the flyweight matchups on that card. On the card, top ten contenders Brandon Royval and Matt Schnell will battle it out.
Whoever wins that fight will need to face a guy at the very top of the division in their next fight. I think that’s where Askarov comes into play here. That would be a good next step for all parties involved.