“Of course. I have a lot of respect for Cody Garbrandt and Askar Askarov, but they made a huge mistake, not respecting Kai Kara-France,” Moreno told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “He’s dangerous, man. He’s very dangerous and I need to be careful with him. Obviously, in a positive way. I need to respect him. I bet him in 2019 and since that fight, he looks better. Definitely, he looks better. And he looks [more] confident. When he goes to the fight, he looks like [he has] a better expression, ready to go with the opponent. So yeah, I think the biggest weapon he’s improved is his confidence, so I need to be careful. But saying that, I’m ready. I’m ready to fight against Kai Kara-France again and beat him again.”
Moreno and Kara-France previously fought at UFC 245 in 2019, with Moreno winning a unanimous decision. That victory started an impressive run for Moreno who won the flyweight title before then losing it in a trilogy bout with Deiveson Figueiredo earlier this year. Now, with Figueiredo sidelined due to injury, Moreno has an opportunity to win an interim title when he rematches Kara-France, and in anticipation, “The Assassin Baby” is now working with James Krause and Glory MMA, a change which he believes was necessary for his development.
“After the last fight against Figueiredo I tried to do something different,” Moreno said. Before, one of the keys to my success was that I went to a lot of different gyms... I went to Albuquerque, I went to Denver, to Arizona, to California, a lot of different places to learn. I’m always trying to get new knowledge. At some point I stopped doing it because I felt very comfortable. I was working very hard, everything was perfect, winning fights, getting the title, but I felt that after this last fight I stopped evolving, and I don’t like that feeling. So I decided to move.”
Over the past couple of years, Krause has become one of the best coaches in MMA, with numerous big names turning to him to help advance their games, and Moreno knows he needs something similar. Since losing to Moreno in 2019, Kara-France has put together an impressive run, going 4-1, and turning in dominant performances against Garbrandt and Askarov. His win over Askarov cemented Kara-France as a top contender in the flyweight division, and in particular caught the eye of Moreno, who fought Askarov to a draw in 2019.
“Of course [I was impressed], because he was able to defend the takedowns, keep the distance, and start to put pressure on Askar Askarov,” Moreno said. “That’s an amazing game plan. I loved that. I know Askar Askarov gets a little bit frustrated when he [doesn’t] to get the rhythm of the fight and the timing of the takedowns. So he started to frustrate Askar Askarov and put the hands on him. That was an amazing, amazing matchup. So I’ve been watching with James [Krause] a lot of fights of Kai, and I can see what kind of holes I can take advantage of for our next fight.”
Moreno faces Kara-France for the interim flyweight title in the co-main event of UFC 277, on July 30 in Dallas.
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