21 Jul 2018

France's UFC signing ends a disheartening wait

12:29 pm on 21 July 2018

New Zealand's newest UFC signing Kai Kara France flattered by head coach after surprising him with an organised contract announcement by UFC president Dana White.

New Zealand UFC flyweight Kai Kara France

New Zealand UFC flyweight Kai Kara France Photo: Facebook - Kai Kara France

Flyweight mixed martial artist Kai Kara France has frustratingly watched his dream of receiving a UFC contract realised by his fellow teammates time and time again.

With a record of 17-7, France first made his mark with the UFC in 2016 when he featured on season 24 of the series 'The Ultimate Fighter'. In his first fight he managed to knock his opponent out in the first round but his second fight didn't pack the same punch.

Losing via unanimous decision, France was forced out of the series and back to the drawing board in a bid to enter the organisation in the men's lightest weight division.

France winning fight via knock out on the UFC series 'The Ultimate Fighter'

France winning fight via knock out on the UFC series 'The Ultimate Fighter' Photo: Facebook - Kai Kara France

As the 25-year-old continued to train the opportunities to feature on UFC Fight Nights came and went in New Zealand and Australia, leaving France watching the likes of Luke Jumeau, Shane Young and Israel Adesanya leapfrog him.

"I'm happy for my teammate's success that is the culture Eugene and the coaches have created but it was hard to watch." says France.

"It was hard seeing all the boys getting the limelight when I knew I should've been there as well and a lot of other people would've stopped their career because it's a hard road to take."

"I knew this what I always wanted to do and I stuck to it."

The UFC's flyweight division is one of the most contested with the titleholder Demetrious Johnson undefeated since 2012. After defending the title successfully twelve times - it's a category not so easy to slip into, in fact, France's stint on the Ultimate Fighter was a quest to see if anyone could defeat Johnson.

New Zealand fighters are typically found in the heavier ranks especially those with knockout power and with this chance France looks forward to writing his own passage in the MMA history books.

"New Zealand is known for its heavyweights and elite fighters on the world combat stage and in the flyweight division everyone will be watching." says France.

"I am more than ready, it's been a blessing in disguise upskilling for two years and I know I'll be on few people's radars."

France explained to Radio New Zealand how his coach Eugene Bareman from Auckland's City Kickboxing gym knew for over week that he was scouted for the UFC and how execution in revealing the news to him was comprehensively thought out to make it memorable.

"my coach told me to come to the gym as a get together for Dan and Israel so I didn't suspect any different." says France

"we were supposed to be watching a tribute video to say thanks, then I heard my name when Dana popped up on the screen and made the announcement."

"It's been a dream and to see it come true right in front of me I hugged my coach Eugene and Israel then they whispered the confirmation and all the tears came running down."

While France has not officially signed on the dotted line and does not yet know how many fights he will be signed on for, he hopes to feature on the upcoming card in Adelaide on December 2.

France is the fifth New Zealand-based fighter to enter the UFC alongside Hooker, Adesanya, Young and Jumeau.