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UFC action returns this weekend with UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs. Albazi, otherwise known as UFC on ESPN 46.

Kai Kara-France, the #3 ranked flyweight contender, squares off against undefeated rising star Amir Albazi, who is currently ranked #7 in the division. Can Kara-France cement his place as a title contender or will Albazi make the most of this high-stakes clash?

The co-main event also features a fascinating matchup between Alex Caceres and Daniel Pineda. Head on over to our UFC predictions hub for an in-depth breakdown of that fight and others before UFC on ESPN 46.

And remember, if you’re looking to place a bet on the fights this weekend, click here to sign up to BetUS using our special link and you’ll get a sign-up bonus worth up to $2,500.

Betting Odds

Let’s take a look at the betting odds for our headliner fight – Kara-France vs. Albazi. The bookies are having a tough time separating these two, which just goes to show how competitive this fight is expected to be.

  • Kai Kara-France: -115 (BetUS)
  • Amir Albazi: -115 (BetUS)

Kara-France, the experienced fighter with an impressive 24-10 record, is making his UFC main event debut. Known for his speed and technique, he’ll be keen to make a statement in this fight.

On the other side of the Octagon, we have Albazi, undefeated in the UFC, who brings a blend of technique and power to the table. This is undoubtedly his biggest UFC fight to date, and he’ll be looking to defend his spot in the rankings.

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Staff Picks

Braeden Arbour

If Kai Kara-France is speed + technique then Albazi is technique and power. The two men are supreme technicians with differing physical attributes backing their skill and style. The fight will be contested over five rounds which on paper should aid Kara-France, as Albazi rarely goes the distance, and has never gone 25 minutes in his pro career. Kara-France has also never seen a fifth round but has gone into camp preparing for one in multiple organizations including once in the UFC. That being said, Albazi has never shown cardio to be a problem, although he may have a lower output than Kara-France, he is a well-paced fighter who stays consistent over three rounds in an efficient manner.

Albazi due to his timing and setups largely puts his opponent in positions to be hit where Albazi does not need to be the quickest fighter. On top of this, the power he carries in his shots means that even if he throws two or three punches, landing just one could have a major effect on the fight. Albazi has an octagon presence that allows him to constantly be the one moving forward if he wants, and he does so by doubling or tripling up on his jabs to set up his power shot and control the center of the cage. He is extremely good at drifting in and out of range, pushing his opponents back without over-extending, and drawing his opponents onto his strikes.

Kai Kara-France has a tendency to over-utilize his movement and footwork to a point where he can very dramatically dip and weave inside exchanges. The upside is it allows him to rotate heavily into his own shots, and his head movement and reaction time is very very good, but if Albazi can dictate when Kara France slips his jab, he could be setting up a shovel hook from the same side or a rear uppercut. We saw this same uppercut used in Albazi’s last fight against Alessandro Costa to get the finish.

Kara-France would do well to make Albazi work. He has a higher output over more octagon time against a higher level of competition, dragging Albazi into difficult gritty and unknown territory aids the veteran. Kara-France has a more versed kicking game from the outside, especially a great low-kick game. He uses a tricky shift kick to the inside thigh from conventional, which serves both to off-balance the power puncher, but also potentially set up the power right of Kara-France. He is also great at landing the rear low kick from all ranges, and surprisingly close on the end of boxing inside the pocket. Kara-France carries a lot of power himself, including that being overhand right behind his kicks or jab, but it would be a bigger risk for him trading in close than it would for Albazi. kara-France should look to pick and poke with kicks and long punches from the outside and mix things up to off-balance Albazi with kicks and elbows if he finds that distance breached.

Kara-France has a sneaky sweep he likes to mix in when his opponents expect the low kick. Albazi is on paper the better wrestler but Kara-France typically likes to mix in takedowns against anyone. If he takes Albazi down at any point he needs to be very wary of the guillotine threat as well as possible triangles. Albazi on top is a monster, he is very submission aware from inside the guard and does a good job of sporadically grinding his weight into his opponent with his forehead and posturing up to land shots to the body and head. He does not waste ground and pound and picks his shots to do the most damage while maintaining control. His record is littered with a variety of submissions, but his ground and pound will do the task of opening the guard and allowing him to stack past or get to the back in a scramble.

This is a big step up for Albazi, so it’s difficult to compare his level of success in the unranked division to the challenge of Kara-France. However, if he can maintain his composure and pace over five rounds I do think he has the skill to find the mark on Kara-France over the 25-minute distance.

Best Bet: Albazi to win (Bet now at BetUS)

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Michael Pounders

After fighting and losing to the champion, #3-ranked Kara-France is fighting all the way down the rankings against #7-ranked Albazi. Completely irrelevant to the handicap but an interesting stat, Kara-France has only lost three times in the UFC, each of which came against a fighter named Brandon (Moreno twice and Royval once).

Kara-France has excellent striking with uniquely heavy power for the 125 division. He also has a jiu-jitsu base and strong wrestling, offensively and defensively, which he primarily uses to keep the fight on the feet. Kara-France, typically, prefers to fight in boxing range where his quick and technically sound combinations are an advantage over most opponents. He has a heavy and frequent leg kick which he uses to immobilize opponents and create a stationary target, easier to hit cleanly.

Once he limits his opponent’s movement, Kara-France unloads crisp boxing combinations with power and speed. He often headhunts in these combinations, looking for the knockout as his nickname “Don’t Blink” nickname implies. While Kara-France does have power, the dynamite in his hands has been a bit overblown and his technical striking a bit undervalued. My evaluation has him somewhere in the middle: a fundamental boxer who can setup and end a fight or win through volume. His issues typically arise when opponents can either stand and trade with him without dropping or against athletic fighters who can continue to move and explode against the often stationary Kara-France.

Albazi is a young and supremely talented fighter but he hasn’t had the chance to prove it against a ranked-level fighter, yet, he’s still getting a shot against the #3 ranked guy in the division. He has a full, well-rounded, game but primarily wrestles his way to victory. His striking isn’t flashy but it is athletic and explosive. He lands heavily to both the body and head of his opponents. Like many other highly skilled grapplers, Albazi’s striking aids him in his grappling entries. Because he throws heat on the feet, he can use his momentum to follow the strikes to the ground, and his opponent, worried about the hammers coming his way, often leaves his hips exposed.

“The Prince” is a dedicated, physical, and highly skilled wrestler and grappler. Despite only holding a 50% takedown success rate, his wrestling is truly top-tier. He times his shots well, rarely getting clipped on an entry. Drives his head and hips through his opponent until he hits the cage or the mat. And, most importantly, can hold position on the mat while landing heavy ground and pound. He’s young, he’s unproven against top competition, and his stats don’t blow anyone away but his skillset is undeniable. He’ll need to be weary of staying on the feet too long with Kara-France because, while Albazi’s striking has improved and is dangerous, he’ll likely be a significant step behind as long as the fight is standing.

This bet is entirely on potential rather than a known quantity. Looking at the “known,” Kara-France should be an even larger favorite. He is the superior striker, has a much better resume, has proven he can go 5 rounds, and, most importantly, has solid takedown defense.

Meanwhile, Albazi is a good striker but a level below Kara-France, has not beaten anyone even near the rankings (he’s only beaten fighters who are either debutants or often seen as UFC-level gatekeepers), has never gone 5 rounds, and while he’s an excellent grappler, only lands 50% of his attempts.

On paper, Kara-France should run away with this one. But, not only do I think Albazi will make this a much closer fight, I’m picking him to win. He’s improved each and every time he’s entered the octagon, has the specific skillset (wrestler with enough striking to get the fight down) that has given Kara-France issues in the past, and his explosive ability to capitalize on small opportunities. I think this fight is going to be close and fun for all 25 minutes but I’m taking the underdog to restart our UFC season with an upset.

Best Bet: Albazi to win (Bet now at BetUS)

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Joe Pounders

Amir Albazi is one of the most dangerous fighters in fighters in the flyweight division. In fact, when you accompany the risk of an opponent relative to name recognition, he is likely the most risky fight for any top 5 contender to go against as Albazi has flown under the radar thus far in the UFC. The reason for him not being as highly touted among casuals is that he has not fought a massive name as of yet, but with a win over the always-game Kai Kara-France, Albazi will not only get propelled in the conversation of contending status but finally, a feather in his cap which will awake the casuals to see just how good he is.

The danger Albazi has within the octagon is rooted in impressive wrestling, ground control, and slick submissions. But, as with many of the elite flyweights, he also has vastly improved striking, and more importantly than that, comfort on the feet which allows him to let openings come to him compared to forcing the issue and putting himself in a compromised position. All together, Albazi gives some semblance of comparison to one of the most highly touted prospects in the entire UFC, Arman Tsarukyan, as he is truly a danger everywhere, is very quick in the octagon, and understands how to fight the best fight for him to exacerbate the largest disparity between him and his opponent. While all great, and somewhat similar to Arman, Albazi has not fought highly-ranked opponents as of yet — Arman fought Islam before Islam had an impressive ranking – so, the question that looms over him is if he can keep the domination he has put forth in the octagon against guys who have not only fought elite opponents, but also, have had demonstrable success against them.

Kai Kara-France is one of the most challenging tests for an elite prospect to face. This is because he is not only vastly experienced in the octagon, but has skills very few flyweights possess. Perhaps the best skill Kai has is his thumping power in his hands, as he seemingly hits with featherweight power albeit he is 5’3 and 125 pounds. Often, in the flyweight division, one-punch power is not at the forefront of concern for fighters, as they are often more worried about lightning-quick speed, clean strikes with kicks and/or elbows, and grappling, but when facing Kara-France, one-punch power threat is indeed there.

Beyond power alone, Kai Kara-France also has elite takedown defense, and underrated offensive grappling in his own right. The latter is likely not a prevalent tool here in this bout, but the former of have elite takedown defense with be of the utmost importance, as Albazi often has little difficulty getting opponents to the mat, but knowing Kara-France has elite takedown defense, roadblocks will be far more apparent. If Kara-France can maintain his elite takedown defense throughout the bout, then his power will have far more opportunity to land, and if done, he can finish the fight at a moment’s notice.

This is a razor-thin fight to predict — as evidenced by the pick’em odds. And, candidly speaking, I have gone back and forth on the likely winner of this bout several times now, and the direction of choice is determining whether Kara-France is simply too much of a leap for Albazi to take on given he has fought individuals nowhere near the caliber of him.

Often, I have full trust that the elite prospect can pass the test, but Kara-France is far from just a “name”, as he is truly a title-contending fighter. With that said, Albazi is not some young prospect who is rushed into fighting a top 5 guy in the division given he has made incremental steps up the division and is nearing his fight-age prime. So, while Kara-France is indeed a challenge and the takedown defense is there, I am still going to trust that the elite grappler and vastly improved striker of Albazi will be able to pass the test and propel his name into title contention himself.

Best Bet: Albazi to win (Bet now at BetUS)

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