The UFC Auckland card, held at the Spark Arena 11 June 2017, did not disappoint fans as it delivered a night of exciting knockouts and victories.
The main event at UFC Fight Night 110 between heavyweight contenders, Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis, has been a passionate topic of discussion for MMA fans worldwide since the event took place. Aside from a smashing main event there were two other Natives featured on the fight card, all of which brought home a win making it a clean sweep for New Zealand. Yet amongst the excitement, there is a not-so-far cry for action on behalf of the UFC as brought to attention by one promising young Kiwi.
The fourth scheduled bout of the main card saw Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker enter the octagon against UFC veteran Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson of England. Three minutes into the third round Hooker claimed his victory by delivering a brutal knee to the face of his opponent, sending Pearson to the canvas. Whilst he claimed he needed time to process his win, saying “It hasn’t really hit me yet!” at the post-fight conference, he did make a point of highlighting the talent that New Zealand has to offer.
“Yo! I got one question,” Hooker called out from centre-octagon, during his immediate post fight speech. “Who wants to see Kai Kara-France fight inside this octagon?”
In response, the atmosphere filled with the roars from a strong Auckland crowd in full support. Kai Kara-France who has undoubtedly made his case for a UFC contract, is a name that arguably should have been on the Auckland fight card. The young knockout-specialist from New Zealand appeared on The Ultimate Fighter season 24: Tournament of Champions last year.
He opened the season with an exciting victory over Terrence Mitchell in Episode 1, scoring a knockout which took him precisely 34 seconds to achieve. Kai’s victory over his fellow housemate was notably the only knockout of the series, proving that the 24 year-old would be an exciting addition to the UFC roster.
Kai’s passionate efforts to beckon the call of opportunity from the UFC, has seen him compete numerous times these past few months for various promotions. He frequently crosses between Bantamweight and Flyweight to prove his athletic versatility but also, just to fight. Fans, fighters and coaches alike are bemused as to why Kai has not received his opportunity within the UFC yet.
“New Zealand has so much more talent to show case,” Hooker went on to say at the post-fight interviews. “There’s guys that are ready for the UFC right now – Kai Kara-France, Kieran Joblin, Israel Adesanya, John Vake – so that’s four names in different weight classes that can not only compete but destroy guys in the UFC.”
New Zealand and Australia are both producing some very exciting and dynamic prospects, as the sport of Mixed Martial Arts continues to expand globally. This expansion has also seen the removal of barriers for MMA prospects within Western Australia, as the State’s cage-ban was recently lifted now allowing MMA fighters to compete in a safer environment.
The following months should prove to be full of excitement and opportunity for competitors like Kai, who represent the sport of MMA in its most authentic element; passion and guts. As the sport gains momentum in developing throughout the Oceania region, fans should expect to see the activity of MMA increase substantially.