Unlike other top contenders in the flyweight division, Kai Kara-France is actually friends with current champion Henry Cejudo. But that won’t prevent the New Zealander from fighting him if the opportunity presented itself.
Both Cejudo and Kara-France were in attendance at UFC 243 last month in Melbourne as they squared off against each other.
While it was all fun and games, if the pair do end up facing each other, it won’t affect their friendship in Kara-France’s eyes. It’ll quite simply, be business.
“Me and Cejudo, we got a good relationship. He’s been one of my mentors that I’ve looked up to — what he’s done in the division, in the sport — it’s pretty amazing,” Kara-France told The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko. “I know him as a different person to what he portrays. That act he’s putting on. I know him just as a normal guy. I got to pick his brain. We’re good friends and it’s all business. If we do end up fighting one day, that would be amazing.
“We’ll still be friends after but he pretty much said to me, ‘Come after me. All this bullshit about being friendly. They’re going to love you or hate you regardless so you just got to be true and do what’s best for your career.’ So that’s why he’s kind of changed the way he has. It was interesting to see that side of someone and you just switch like that when you’re talking to a fan.”
However, Cejudo also holds the bantamweight title and has made no secret of his desire to fight in that weight class next given how hot the division has become.
For what it’s worth, Kara-France does not expect to see “Triple C” return to 125.
“When I was speaking to him, he didn’t look like he was going to come back to fly[weight],” Kara-France revealed. “He was pretty much saying every time he cuts down to flyweight, it’s taking years off his life. He was like ‘for the rest of my career, I might just be a bantam[weight]. I want to get these big fights.’ So I was like yeah, all the best for you. Do what’s best for you.
“And then he was like, ‘I’d love to come down to City Kickboxing training for you guys.’ I was like ‘you better stay at bantamweight if you’re doing that because you can’t be on the table with me on the menu.’ We’ll see what happens if he does end up coming down.”
There’s a strong likelihood that Cejudo will be stripped if he doesn’t plan on defending his flyweight title. In that case, the obvious candidate to fight for the vacant title is Joseph Benavidez. But who would his opponent be?
Kara-France takes on Brandon Moreno at UFC 245 on December 14 and believes a statement-making win could insert him into the title picture in that scenario.
“Yeah, definitely. I can see that happening,” Kara-France said. “There’s not many guys in that top five that deserve a title shot besides Benavidez. I know [Deiveson] Figueiredo’s coming off a good win and he’s trying to push for a title shot. But yeah, Matt Schnell [who fights Alexandre Pantoja at UFC Busan] is on a bit of a run right now.
“The UFC — how they work — is if anyone puts on a good fight and makes a statement, usually that determines who the next contender or the next title shot will be. It’s an exciting time. I just got to make sure I’m doing all the right things.”
You can see the full interview below: