Brandon Moreno rematched Kai Kara-France at UFC 277, this time for the Interim Flyweight Championship whilst current reigning champion Deiveson Figueiredo recovers from injuries. The pair's first fight saw Kara-France timing his right overhand over Moreno's left handed leads with success in round one whilst rounds 2 and 3 saw Moreno finding more success with left hooks and high kicks punishing the Kiwi for his tendency to dip to the right.
The Perfect Plan
The rematch saw both fighters utilise similar game plans to greater degrees of effectiveness. Moreno's coach, James Krause, acknowledged that Kai's game was built around leg kicks and the overhand right. Indeed, Kai Kara-France looked every part the City Kickboxing Alumni when he opened the fight with a step up lead low kick, a technique his teammate Alexander Volkanovski builds around to great effect. Whilst Kara-France threw leg kicks in the first fight, the rematch saw them utilised with a clear strategy in mind. Kai recognised Moreno's vulnerability to the low kicks due to his longer stance à la Volkanovski vs Holloway 1. The low kicks would likely have proved useful in impeding the speed and lurching footwork of Moreno, taking away one of his biggest assets.
Moreno's lead kicks brought his game together completely. By flinging his left shin at Kara-France's head at every opportunity, Moreno was able to keep that problematic right hand firmly pinned to Kai's head to avoid taking the kick unguarded. This was utilised in the first fight effectively but with the addition of the body kick Moreno was able to turn it into an effective showstopper. Kai's dip to the right when slipping became that much more dangerous, feeding Moreno his head or body on a platter when the kicks came. Whenever Kara-France found himself out of position or otherwise flustered, Moreno finished his fast combinations with the left kick, frequently changing the target to keep Kai concerned about both areas. The finish came to him upon a clinch-break in which Kai ran back to reset, perhaps stunned somewhat by a spinning backfist. Moreno pounded in the fatal body kick and Kai shut down.
I'm not going to pretend as if Moreno's gameplan was to stop Kara-France with body kicks. We very rarely see fights stopped due to bodywork, but kicks were always money in the bank given Kai's tendency to circle right and his vulnerability to bodywork as exposed in the Raulian Paiva fight (which I thought Paiva clearly took). Dan Tom explores the Paiva fight in relation to Kai's vulnerabilities in greater detail on the Protect Ya Neck Podcast which I'd suggest listening to here. Despite the infrequency of bodywork KOs, Moreno and Krause's ability to recognise the hole in Kai's game is what landed Moreno with interim gold.
Moreno will now fight Deiveson Figueiredo for the fourth time, the first time two people have fought four times within the UFC. Whilst I would have preferred to see a new matchup for the champ, Moreno did what he had to do and looked a step ahead whilst doing it. Watching these two fight will always be compelling to me; they're so well matched for one another that there will always be a level of intrigue until one begins to seriously decline. I'd like to see Kara-France still remain in title conversation and a fight against Alexandre Pantoja would go to bolster that standing. Pantoja, of course, deserves the title shot after Moreno and Figueiredo settle their business but if he wishes to remain active during this time then the Kai fight is a no-brainer.
Top comments (8)
I heard Din Thomas absolutely nail this point during the fight commentary 🔥
Brilliant post Olly. I'll be watching this back.
Yeah, I usually watch back the fights on mute so I don't get distracted from what's actually going on but whilst I was clipping for gifs I kept it on and heard Din make that point. Was a little gutted he'd seen it too to be honest haha, but also shows that it's a good point I suppose.
Thanks! Really appreciate people saying they watch back after I write a piece on a fight
Great minds think alike mate… Din pops in with his vantage point and friggin nails it in every fight 😂
Listening to Moreno on The MMA Hour atm, love this guy.
UFC 277 reaction, Brandon Moreno, Deiveson Figueiredo, Roberto Soldić, James Krause, and more
The MMA Hour
Figgy on straight after.
Loving the gif game you’ve got going on with your posts. Legit.
Guess what.... Because of this post, I am going to watch this fight again. This is becoming a regular thing for me. Watch fight, read your analysis, watch back what I missed.
That's pretty high praise and really appreciated. What I love about this sport is the technicality and strategy behind everything, the reasons why one fighter wins over another. If I can help people see it from that perspective as well then it just reaffirms to me that what I'm doing is valuable. Thanks!
Me too 😂
This is super read! Such an interesting analysis, love it!