Brandon Royval (+205) vs. Kai Kara-France (-250)
Weight Class: Flyweight (125 lbs)
Kai Kara-France will be one of three City Kickboxing representatives fighting at UFC 253. Brad Riddell will be fighting on the under-card while Israel Adesanya is of course headlining the event. For Kara-France, he finds himself on the main card and will be a part of the last fight before two title bouts.
In terms of the Flyweight division, this fight between Brandon Royval and Kai Kara-France was one of the best match-ups to make. Kara-France is currently ranked 7th while Royval currently occupies the 9th slot.
Royval is of course coming off a UFC debut win against Tim Elliot. In a wild, grappling-heavy fight, Royval emerged victorious with a second round submission. He was not impressed with his performance in his post-fight interview and said that he still wasn’t sure about quitting his full time job. Despite Royval being a model humble fighter, a debut win over Tim Elliot is certainly worth bragging about.
Though he has just one fight under the UFC banner, Royval has fought several high profile level fighters prior to his UFC career. He lost a five round, LFA main event to Casey Kenney in 2018 and has several first round submissions under his belt, including one against UFC newcomer Jerome Rivera.
Stylistically, Royval is a dangerous submission artist and talented grappler. His take down attempts are well timed, though he isn’t necessarily a prolific take down artist. Once on the ground, however, Royval is always dangerous.
As for Kara-France, he picked up a decision win over Tyson Nam his last go around. Prior to that, he lost a decision to Brandon Moreno at UFC 245. Moreno is viewed as a #1 contender by many in the MMA community and Kara-France certainly had his moments in the fight.
Though his overall record is deceiving, Kai Kara-France has won nine of his last 10 fights dating back to 2017. His striking is some of the best in the division and he is a decision machine, picking up all four of his UFC wins via points. The City Kickboxing product throws insane volume with the jab and has excellent combinations. His take down defense is solid — upwards of 75% — so the fight generally stays standing.
Ultimately, I see Kai Kara-France pulling out another decision. Brandon Royval is a very game opponent, but I think the difference in the striking game will cost him a on points here. Royval will certainly have his grappling moments, but Kara-France will be racking up points the entire time. I expect a-lot of pushing against the fence with the bulk of take down attempts going nowhere.
If the fight does go to the ground for a significant period of time, I would be worried about Kara-France. For this reason, a hedge with Brandon Royval at (+200) is certainly worth considering. However, I ultimately think that Kai Kara-France will pick up yet another decision win. He will likely double Royval on striking and run away with it. The ceiling for Kara-France is a title contender and while Royval could reach the same level, he isn’t quite there yet.