Kai Kara-France Believes Steve Erceg Beat Alexandre Pantoja at UFC 301

July 1, 2024
Kai Kara-France believes upcoming opponent Steve Erceg did enough to dethrone Alexandre Pantoja in their UFC 301 title fight.

Kara-France is set to return to action against Erceg at UFC 305 on Aug. 17 in Perth, Australia. Erceg made his UFC debut in June 2023 and racked up a three-fight winning streak to earn a title shot against Pantoja within less than a year. The Australian dropped a hard-fought unanimous decision against “The Cannibal” in the main event at UFC 301 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this past May.

Kara-France is not only impressed by Erceg’s rapid rise up the rankings but also believes “Astro Boy” did enough to get his hand raised against Pantoja.

“I’m excited for Steve. He’s done a really great job while he’s been in the division,” Kara France told the New Zealand Herald. “It hasn’t been a long time, four fights, and he already had a title fight. It’s pretty impressive, and I thought he did enough to win that fight. It just goes to show how good he is.

“I’m here to fight the best, that’s why when Steve came across the table, I said, ‘Of course I’ll take it.’ I’m not here to pick my fights. I’m here to fight whoever and let my work do the talking.”

Kara-France hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision loss against Amir Albazi in June 2023. While Kara-France was scheduled to meet Manel Kape at UFC 293 in September 2023, the Kiwi standout was forced out due to a concussion suffered in sparring. Returning from the hiatus, Kara-France knows he has a lot left in him. Kara-France now wants to gradually build his way back into title conversations, starting with a potential win over Erceg in enemy territory.

“I love this. This is my passion,” he said. “This is what I love to do, and when you have a rest and you come back into your normal setting and the fire is still burning, you know you’ve got a lot of years left to give.

“I’m just giving myself the best chance, giving myself a bit of longevity. We’ve still got goals to hit, chase this title and the best way to do that is to knock Steve out at his hometown, so that’s the plan.”

Currently on a two-fight losing streak, Kara-France isn’t insistent on an immediate title shot if he beats Erceg. Having spent the past year in recovery, the process of simply fighting is now more valuable for Kara-France.

“I’m just going to enjoy fighting and enjoy the process,” he said. “When you get injured, you realize this isn’t forever and that was a big takeaway: just enjoy everything and don’t take anything for granted… Just be grateful to be in this position and keep working hard. That’s the kind of mindset and mentality that I’ve got, and I think that just comes with age and maturity, being a family man and having a wife and children to support, the next five years — or however long I’ve got in my career — I want to do it to the fullest and put everything into it, climb the rankings, beat these contenders and just let that be my body of work.

“When I get past Steve, who knows? If the UFC gives me a title fight or want me to fight another contender, I’m just here to compete.”

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Kai-KaraFrance-Believes-Steve-Erceg-Beat-Alexandre-Pantoja-at-UFC-301-194206

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