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Kai Kara-France wants to knock out Deiveson Figueiredo in front of Henry Cejudo

Lately, UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo and ex-champ Brandon Moreno are making a lot more noise about another contender than a fourth fight between them.

Figueiredo recently called out ex-champ Brandon Moreno for “racist comments” and said Kai Kara-France was his new target, while Moreno said the champ’s “ovaries hurt” and couldn’t make the quadrilogy reportedly planned by the UFC.

Whether the drama is manufactured to sell another fight or an indication that Figueiredo vs. Moreno 4 is not happening, Kara-France is ready to take the spotlight. But of course, he has a preference should he get the call to step in the mix.

“Both [Figueiredo and Moreno] fights are great fights for me, but I would love to fight Figueiredo,” Kara-France said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “The way he amps up the fight, just his style, people really think he’s ‘God of War.’ But I want to show him that there’s levels to this and there’s a new ‘God of War’ in town, and that’s me. I want to be in his face and put it on him. I want to test him.

“I feel like I can put him away, so it would be a great fight, and imagine doing it at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, 60,000 people, making the walkout, feeding off the energy and putting it on him.”

Kara-France made a strong argument to get the next title shot with a decision over Askar Askarov at UFC Columbus. It was his third straight win in a 7-2 octagon run and eliminated what many MMA observers believed was a rightful contender in Askarov. Kara-France was a +300 underdog in several betting lines.

Before Kara-France agrees to anything, he may need to agree to a new contract; the UFC Columbus appearance left him with one fight remaining on his current contract, and the promotion is unlikely to move forward without a new deal in place.

Kara-France said he’ll confer with his longtime coach, Eugene Bareman of City Kickboxing, and UFC matchmakers. If he’s required to take another fight, or serve as backup for Figueiredo vs. Moreno 4, he’s right where he needs to be.

“Both champions want to fight me,” he said. “They’re both saying, ‘I don’t want to fight for the fourth time, I want to fight this guy.’ So, the ball’s in my court. That was my second to last fight on my contract, so we’re in a great place. Now, we’re going to talk with Eugene and Mick and Dana and see what the next plan is.”

The fight with Askarov was Kara-France’s gamble on himself as he faced the proposition of losing his place in line.

“High risk, high reward,” he said. “No one wanted to fight this guy. A lot of people would have sat back after knocking out a former champion, let’s just sit on this and see what happens. But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to wait and be given a title shot, I want to earn it. I want to show everyone I’m the best in the world.”

“I feel like fans want to see a new face,” he added later. “They want to see a new matchup, and then let me fight Figgy, and then I get past him and I’ll fight Moreno after that.”

There’s already ample backstory between Kara-France and his potential opposition. He and Moreno served on opposing teams on The Ultimate Fighter 24 and faced off in the octagon at UFC 245 with Moreno earning a decision win. Coaches Eric Albarracin and Henry Cejudo coached him on the reality show before a residence with Figueiredo at the Fight Ready gym in Arizona.

Albarracin was also cageside when Kara-France’s friend and teammate, UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, profanely mocked the coach and his charge, Paulo Costa, after a second-round stoppage win.

“[Albarracin] was my coach on Season 24, so I know [he and Cejudo], and they obviously felt disrespected by Izzy when Izzy knocked out Costa, and there was a bit of back-and-forth and a bit of beef there,” Kara-France said. “So they keep saying, ‘We accept this fight [with] Kai against Figgy, we want Izzy to be in the corner, to, I guess, try and make a statement.’ But if [Adesanya is] fighting the same night as the main event, that won’t be happening.

“I’d love to knock Figgy out right in front of Cejudo and let him know that that shy, young boy that you coached on The Ultimate Fighter ain’t the same anymore. I’m grown up, I’m matured, and I’m a seasoned veteran. So it’s a whole different ballpark.”

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