The great flyweight race continues in the aftermath of Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo 4. Their one-of-a-kind saga elevated the division's profile but locked out every other contender. Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in an effort to set themselves apart from their contemporaries.
Kara-France (24-10, 1 NC) has unshaken self-belief despite a stoppage loss to reigning UFC flyweight champion Moreno, his second loss to the same foe. The finish was decisive but the fight preceding it was very competitive. Kara-France and Moreno were dead even on the judges' scorecards heading into Round 3 of their interim title clash at UFC 277. Kara-France sources inspiration from his teammate Israel Adesanya, the latter of whom knocked out Alex Pereira after three prior losses to his rival. Kara-France presents the same indomitable spirit as he chases a trilogy fight against the flyweight champ.
"It just reminded me that I'm right there with the best guys. That's the fight game," Kara-France told CBS Sports ahead of his fight at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. "Some days, if I put on that same performance I would have won. That's what happens when you're competing at the highest level in sports. It's a game of inches. It could have gone either way on another night. We'll just get back in there and do it again. I don't really hold onto things. I just show the world that we belong. That's what I'll do on Saturday."
Check out the full interview with Kai Kara France below.
Albazi (16-1) is the oncoming storm in the division. The flyweight assembly line was stalled for years as Moreno and Figueiredo volleyed the title back and forth for four consecutive years. Most contenders, chomping at the bit for their chance at glory, were relieved to see the saga end. Albazi is a newer face in the space and arrives at a time when the road is clear.
"It's perfect timing," Albazi told CBS Sports. "I see it as the exact perfect timing. The way I just came and entered the picture. Now their beef is over. I don't know what Figueiredo is doing. If he wants revenge for his little brother [Francisco Figueiredo], I'm here too. I can fight him after I'm done with Kai. So I don't mind that either. It's the perfect timing. The stars are aligned. Everything is set. I just need to beat Kai and go get my title. Even if they don't want to give it to me."
Check out the full interview with Amir Albazi below.
The remainder of the UFC Fight Night card is just as thin as the marquee. Standout names include eccentric "The Ultimate Fighter" alum Alex Caceres, battle-tested veteran Jim Miller and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Caceres is on a career-best 6-1 run more than a dozen years into his pro career.
"The more I started to believe in myself, the more I started to stop trying to control myself in a sense," Caceres told CBS Sports. "Just let go and enjoy the very moment that I'm in. Rather than try to achieve a moment that has yet to be or dwell on a moment that has already passed. I think that's when we find ourselves at the best when we can live in that present moment and we believe in ourselves.
"'What if I lose? What if I don't do good? What if they don't like me?' Forget about it. Whatever is going to happen will happen. I'm simply going to be here now and that's the best that I can do."
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Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Kai Kara-France -110||Amir Albazi -110||Flyweight|
|Alex Caceres -175||Daniel Pineda +150||Featherweight|
|Jim Miller ||Jesse Butler||Lightweight|
|Tim Elliott -170||Victor Altamirano +145||Flyweight|
|Karine Silva -225||Ketlen Souza +185||Women's flyweight|
|Abubakar Nurmagomedov -115||Elizeu dos Santos -105||Welterweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: June 3 | Start time: 9 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas, Nevada
TV channel: ESPN+
Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi: Kara-France has proved he can hang with the best in the world and Albazi has future champion written all over him. The caliber of each fighter is represented in the dead-even betting odds for Saturday's main event. Kara-France is one of the hardest hitters at flyweights. He hasn't reliably found the finish inside the Octagon but he is tied for third all-time for UFC flyweight knockdowns. Albazi presents a more well-rounded approach to the fight game. Albazi is at a 25% deficit in strikes landed but secures nearly five times as many takedowns per 15 minutes. A finish is very much on the cards between Kara-France's KO power and Albazi's combination of reliable submissions and fundamental striking skills. Albazi has a ton of upside. The question is if beating three fighters all of whom are currently on losing skids is preparation enough for a fighter the ilk of Kara-France. I'm going to very hesitantly side with Kara-France taking a decision over a durable foe, but expect great things from Albazi. Kara-France via UD
Who wins UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi, and how does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night, all from the MMA expert who profited more than $6,200 in 2022, and find out.