Combat Sports

Askar Askarov vs. Kai Kara-France Booked for March 26

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The UFC booked an all-important bout at flyweight today as Kai Kara-France and Askar Askarov meet at UFC Fight Night on March 26. The event is slated to take place at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, and marks the first non-numbered card to take place outside of the UFC Apex since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This news was confirmed by Brett Okamoto of ESPN after being originally reported by MMA Junkie.

Verbal agreements had previously been in place as of December 25, but Okamoto and his sources confirmed that contracts have been signed as of December 28.

Top Contender Status On the Line

Askar Askarov (14-0-1 3-0-1 UFC) has previously advocated for a fight against Kai Kara-France (23-9-0 6-2-0 UFC) to determine the next title shot at 125 pounds, and it seems he finally got his wish. The 29-year-old Russian flyweight is unbeaten in his pro MMA career and is riding high off of three consecutive wins over Alexandre Pantoja, former title challenger Joseph Benavidez, and Tim Elliott. He fought current flyweight champion Brandon Moreno to a split draw in his UFC debut.

His opponent Kai Kara-France is a true fighter’s fighter: he has never been one to shy away from an exciting fight. He has two straight Performance of the Night bonuses with first-round knockout wins over Rogerio Bontorin and former flyweight champion Cody Garbrandt.

The Russian Askarov has been known as a patient fighter throughout his career, but he is not afraid to sling the leather when it benefits him. Of course, he has incredible grappling, as he locked in a Twister submission as one of his six professional submission wins. The only hole in his game could be his power: he only has for knockout wins in his career, and none have come in the UFC.

If Kara-France can stay on the feet, he has a legitimate chance at dispatching his opponent, as he is a fantastic striker that possesses lights-out power. His chin, as well, is second-to-none, and that should be enough to power him past Askarov if he avoids going to the mat.

Dana White has said that the winner of this bout gets the next title shot, and it is not hard to see why. These two men have earned every opportunity that comes their way. The winner should face the winner of the upcoming Figueiredo-Moreno bout for the flyweight title, and there should be no more questions asked surrounding the 125-pound division’s future, at least for the next few years.

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I’m a freshman at the University of Georgia who is a massive sports fan, and I have a passion for writing about the things I love, including MMA.