Kai Kara-France believes the judges cost him an awful lot of money this past weekend.
On Saturday, Kara-France faced off with Amir Albazi in the main event of UFC Vegas 74, losing a controversial split decision. In the immediate aftermath, Kara-France did his best to take the loss on the chin, saying judges scoring is subjective and he won’t dwell on the outcome. But after having some time to watch the fight back, Kara-France isn’t sure what the judges were looking at.
“To have a bit of time to kind of reflect and let it sink in, look at all the stats, and watch the fight back, I lost, but I didn’t lose,” Kara-France told The MMA Hour. “It’s a weird feeling when you’re at the after-party with Shaquille O’Neal and he’s DJing and you’re thinking, ‘Bro, I should be celebrating a win right now,’ and it feels like I should be but I don’t have that W next to my name. So it’s a tough one.
“It’s hard to see how the judges gave it to Amir. When you look at it, black and white, what the stats were, and what he was trying to implement, and I what I was able to neutralize and capitalize on moments, I definitely thought I won and I feel like the whole world does. I haven’t met anyone or seen anyone yet that though Amir won besides Amir. But hey, that’s the fight. I can’t change the result. I feel like my stocks don’t go down at all. People know that I’m one of the best guys in the world and that performance showed that I’m at the highest level.”
The bout was extremely competitive, with Albazi finding success early, particularly via his grappling, while Kara-France surged late. Some of the controversy though stems from judge Chris Lee, who scored the fourth round for Albazi, despite Kara-France dominating that round statistically. Kara-France isn’t sure how the judge saw it that way, but he is sure what it meant for him: a pretty severe financial and career loss.
“I definitely thought [I won] round one,” Kara-France said. “Two was a close round, but I feel like I did enough. He got me down in the third round, took my back, couldn’t finish me, and I ended up finishing on top, raining down elbows. And then fourth and fifth, I was the one dictating the pace, I was the one pressuring, I was the one landing the better shots. And it’s how you finish. It’s momentum. It’s pretty much stamping that you’re winning the fight. He was tired, he was gassed, all he did was push me against the cage, and a few flurries, but mostly it was me those last two rounds. So it’s a tough one when you’re looking at my career right now.
“That cost me $100,000, that loss. It cost me my ranking, No. 3 in the world. Where winning this fight would have just put me right back in with probably [Brandon] Royval to fight for the No. 1 contender. It puts me right back into where I want to be, which is the best in the world...
“It’s a tough one when you look at it like that and you take a step back and you’ve got to think, what are these judges looking at? I wasn’t going to win right from the start if that’s what they’re looking at. So it kind of makes you really question what are the judges even trying to see here. They’re not even giving me a chance if fourth and fifth round, if I didn’t even push, they wouldn’t have given it to me anyway. So it’s a really tough situation, but I guess the game we play is subjective and this stuff happens.”
It certainly is tough for Kara-France who has now lost two in a row, sliding well outside of the immediate title picture, but ultimately there’s nothing he can do about it. Instead, Kara-France is planning to move on as best he can, but he does wish he could have a little more faith in the judges moving forward.
“It’s a tough one to take, isn’t it? When you look at it like that and people see how much it does affect a fighter, when decisions don’t go the right wayKara-France said. “You put so much into this. I’ve been away from fighting for 11 months, and then to put a 12-week camp together, feeling great, coming in as a main event slot, and then to have it go down like that. Obviously it’s kind of on me as well, to go in there and finish fights, but you would think these guys would be making the best call when it comes to the decisions. This is their job. It’s what they’re paid to do, be analysts... You’ve got to take it for what it is, and if you’re in the fight capitol of the world, you’ve got to be more accountable to what you’re looking at, what you’re judging on. There’s so much criteria to this where I never really had a chance. It sucks, but what do you do? You’ve just got to go get another fight booked and get back to it, make up for that loss...
“It’s not going to be solved overnight, this problem that we have with these judges,” Kara-France continued. “It’s definitely something to look at when you’re going into a fight and you look at these names recurring and you start to question, do I want this guy [judging] my fight? Because I don’t want to be in a situation again where I’m looking at my phone, I’m seeing thousands of people saying, ‘Kai got robbed, Kai should have won,’ and I can’t change anything. I’m just on to the next, and I’m trying not to be caught up in this, because it’s energy wasted for me. I’m not trying to be a bad sport and say, ‘Why me?’ I’ve never done that in my career. I’ll just move forward, onto the next challenge.”