Kai Kara-France edges Askar Askarov at UFC Columbus

kai kara france

Tonight on the main card of UFC Columbus we saw a flyweight fight with huge division implications. Top flyweight contenders battled it out as New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France (23-9) took on the unbeaten Dagestani Askar Askarov (14-0-1).

This was a huge fight in the UFC’s flyweight division with the winner likely next for the flyweight title. The last time we saw Kara-France was at UFC 268 when he welcomed former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt to the flyweight division. He got the win of his career via first round KO, but tonight was looking to be an even stiffer test.

There are plenty of people out there who believe Askar Askarov is the best flyweight in the UFC. He entered tonight 3-0-1 in his four octagon appearances with the lone draw coming against former champion Brandon Moreno. He was on a three-fight win streak since that draw and destroyed Joseph Benavidez his last time out.

UFC Columbus Recap

Round 1

The UFC Columbus flyweight contest kicked off with Kara-France taking the center. Askarov circling on the outside as Kara-France works his feints early in the first. Both men just feeling the other out here in the first minute. Kara-France continues to look for his jab and he lands a calf kick.

Askarov coming forward and looks for a looping hook but eats a leg kick. He gets deep on a single leg takedown and Kara-France is defending well. Really solid balance from Kara-France who is somehow remaining on his feet. However, Askarov kicks his back leg out and secures the takedown.

Side control for Askarov and Kara-France tries to scramble. However, the scramble finds Askarov getting the back of Kara-France. Body triangle for Askarov and now he’s softening Kara-France with some shots from the back. Kara-France gets to his feet but Askarov is holding on the body triangle.

Askarov gets under the chin and it looks like he’s got a rear-naked choke. Kara-France peeling the hands and is able to survive, but Askarov is still on his back. Askarov continues looking for the submissions with 30 seconds left in round. Kara-France survives the first, but it’s a dominant first round for Askarov at UFC Columbus.

Round 2

Entering the second at UFC Columbus and the message is clear for Kara-France, keep the fight standing. It’s Askarov who opens the round by taking the center. Kara-France pops out a double jab but nothing lands. Low kick lands for Kara-France. Big pressure from Kara-France who lands some really big shots.

Askarov just eats the shots and now he’s the one coming forward. Takedown attempt from Askarov and he has Kara-France against the fence. Body lock for Askarov and he drags Kara-France to the ground. Askarov again gets the back of Kara-France, but Kara-France scrambles immediately.

He’s able to get back to his feet and they are striking again. Kara-France throws a big combination that just misses. Nice lead left lands for Kara-France and he follows it with a good right hand. Beautifully timed takedown attempt from Askarov and he has Kara-France against the fence again.

However, Kara-France shakes him off. Back to striking and Kara-France rocks Askarov with some big shots. Kara-France points to the center and he’s going for it. Big shot for Askarov backs up Kara-France for a minute but only a minute. Heavy pressure from Kara-France and he’s landing big.

Askarov is not looking confident right now. Nice counter right lands for Askarov. The round comes to an end and it’s 1-1 at UFC Columbus.

Round 3

Entering the final round at UFC Columbus and it’s all going to come down to this round. They touch gloves to start the final round and here we go. Kara-France swings with a big right and Askarov just barely evades the big shot. Heavy kick from Askarov but it lands low and the action pauses.

Back at it and they touch gloves. Low kick lands for Kara-France. Body kick lands for Kara-France but Askarov is starting to close the distance. Askarov is able to secure a body lock off a combination and he spins to the back of Kara-France.

Askarov pushes Kara-France to the fence and he hops on the back of Kara-France. Kara-France with great defense and reverses, but Askarov scrambles and goes right back on the takedown attempt. Again, Kara-France defends well and they are back to striking.

Halfway through the final round and this is still anyone’s fight. Right straight lands for Askarov. Low kick lands for Kara-France. Askarov starting to get closer and the two men exchange right hands. Heavy pressure from Askarov and he throws a big uppercut.

Shot to the body for Kara-France and Askarov lands a big right. Final minute and here comes Kara-France. Big throws from Kara-France but nothing big is landing. Askarov goes for a takedown attempt and gets some cage pressure to end the fight. Nothing big in the final round at UFC Columbus and I have Askarov edging it out.

Kai Kara-France def. Askar Askarov by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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