Askar Askarov, holding a professional record of 14-0-1, is set to fight 23-9, Kai Kara-France, in an electrifying flyweight matchup.
Both men are coming off dominating performances against former title challengers, and each is aiming to fight for the belt with a win in this matchup. Although each is poised to contend due to recent dominance, the way in which each has had success in the octagon have differed greatly – Askarov winning all 15 minutes and Kara-France winning by TKO/KO in round 1. The high-stakes of a potential title fight at play parlayed with the disparity in styles is a recipe for a highly entertaining matchup!
The #2 ranked Askarov is a sizable -300 favorite over the #6 ranked Kara-France.
- Askarov: -365
- Kara-France: +280
Askarov is an elite flyweight that has had title challenger pegged on him since his arrival in the UFC – his first fight being a draw against the former champion, Brandon Moreno. Learning from this fight, Askarov has won each of his other three UFC fights, all against elite and highly-touted fighters. His success, against impressive challengers, boils down to his most elite attribute as a fighter – wrestling.
A Russian having good wrestling is not surprising, as the Dagestan fighters are becoming synonymous with effectively employing Sambo-wrestling inside the octagon. What is perhaps surprising, for Askarov, is his relentless pursuit of the takedown albeit he has sound, fundamental striking. The technical striking, which is a fluid blend of calf kicks with quick boxing combinations, is used to create opportunities for wrestling; and once an opportunity arises, Askarov does not hesitate to shoot a takedown, to then, look for ground and pound or a submission. If his opponent gets off the mat and returns to the feet, Askarov simply rinses and repeats this progression, making for an extremely taxing and mentally frustrating fight for his opponent given Askarov has the cardio and skills to dictate the fight precisely how he wants it to go.
While Askarov has a clear and defined blueprint for a 15-minute affair, Kara-France has elected to forego the scorecard and simply finish the fight as quickly as possible in his last two fights. More specifically, Kara-France, of recent note, has successfully implemented his best attribute as a fighter – his power – against fellow dangerous and formerly renowned flyweights.
Kara-France having the power and desire to finish the fight does not correlate to him fighting recklessly inside the octagon which is a keen attribute for him, particularly when fighting the highest level of competition. Patience and intelligence on the feet combats a potential concern in this specific matchup, that is, rushing in with a big overhand right that enables his opponent to drop levels and secure an easy takedown. So, although this worry of blindly throwing shots is combated, the biggest issue for Kara-France on the feet is the wide stance he elects to have that allows him to maximize power, but, in turn, allows his opponent to land clean and damaging calf strikes. So, Kara-France will need to be mindful of this attack, particularly when fighting a solid calf striker. Lastly, Kara-France will need to showcase that his impressive 87% takedown defense can hold up against the best wrestler he has faced to date. If successfully done, he will have a good chance of securing the victory and potentially fight for the belt.
Simply put, this fight is Askarov’s to lose. I believe Askarov’s elite wrestling skills coupled with the wide stance Kara-France elects to have in the octagon presents a clear opportunity to secure a single-leg takedown early in the fight, and once down, the disparity of Askarov’s top position against Kara-France’s bottom game warrants the belief that Askarov can keep the fight on the mat for the entirety of the first round. If Askarov employs this immediate wrestling in the octagon, the power of Kara-France will be depleted, and once done, the differential in technical striking, wrestling, and cardio all favor the #2 ranked Askarov. If, however, Askarov decides to strike with Kara-France, particularly early in the fight, Kara-France has the power and boxing ability to significantly damage Askarov and win. However, knowing Askarov has the historical desire to shoot takedown after takedown coupled with believing he will secure a takedown in this matchup somewhat easily, I am confidently backing him in this matchup.
Bet: Askarov by Decision