UFC betting, odds: How to bet Amir Albazi-Kai Kara-France main event

The UFC returns to action after its holiday break with another Fight Night in the friendly confines of the Apex’s smaller cage. Flyweight contenders Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi headline Saturday night’s card as both fighters look to push toward a title shot. It’s been close to a full calendar year since the third-ranked Kara-France dropped his last fight to current champion Brandon Moreno in July. The two battled for the interim flyweight strap in the co-main event at UFC 277, and despite Kara-France coming up short, he showed well, hurting Moreno early in the bout. I remember vividly because I was on Moreno pretty heavy, and even though I ended up a winner, it was at the expense of a pretty good sweat.

Albazi’s path in the UFC has been a little different. The seventh-ranked Albazi is 4-0 since entering the promotion in 2020. After finishing three of his four opponents, Albazi gets a big step up in competition in Kara-France. A win in Saturday night’s main event over a fighter with Kara-France’s resume will catapult him into the title conversation.

This isn’t the strongest card from top to bottom, but I am excited to see a meaningful fight in the main event. As a bettor, it’s nice to get back in the action, and the card will serve its purpose to hold us over until UFC 289 next weekend. After Kara-France opened as the favorite, the current odds at BetMGM have this fight as a pick ’em with -110 odds on each side. If that doesn’t convince you we are in for a good scrap, I am not sure what will. Let’s break this one down from a betting perspective, and I will explain why I think this is a bigger challenge for Albazi than the odds indicate.

DALLAS, TEXAS - JULY 30: (L-R) Kai Kara-France of New Zealand kicks Brandon Moreno of Mexico in the interim UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
Kai Kara-France lands a kick against Brandon Moreno in the interim UFC flyweight championship fight during UFC 277 at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022, in Dallas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Amir Albazi (-110) vs. Kai Kara-France (-110)

I walk away more impressed each time Kara-France fights. I don’t know if he will ever become a champion, but there is obvious improvement whenever he steps into the Octagon. He is 7-3 in the UFC, with his only losses coming to rising contender Brandon Royval and twice to Moreno, the current champion. There is no shame in dropping a war to Moreno. Kara-France gave the flyweight champion all he could handle before succumbing to strikes. In defeat, he proved he could bang with the division’s elite, and at 30 years old, I would bet we have not seen his ceiling.

Albazi is 16-1 in his career with his only blemish occuring on the regional scene in 2019. He hasn’t lost in the UFC, but has definitely shown some weakness along the way that can be exploited by a fighter of Kara-France’s caliber. Albazi has decent boxing, good power, but it’s not polished enough to stand with Kara-France. He is going to have to hunt for takedowns and get this fight to the ground if he wants to have success. That’s how his bread gets buttered. Albazi has six takedowns in his four UFC fights and averages just under 2.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. More importantly, once he gets the fight to the ground, he is excellent at maintaining control of his opponent while attacking with submission attempts.

Kara-France has proven he has the technical ability to stay on his feet against strong grapplers. Just last year, in his upset win over Askar Askarov, Kara-France fended off 12 of 14 of Askarov’s takedown attempts and used his opponents relentless wrestling against him. Kara-France does an excellent job of controlling tempo with his pressure and forcing his opponents to fight at an exhausting pace. If Albazi is unable to secure takedowns early, Kara-France will be able to land at distance with combinations and leg kicks. The deeper the fight goes, the more it favors Kara-France. I could see Albazi getting tuned up in the early rounds, and that’s when his lack of experience against top competition will come into play.

All grapplers have a plan until they realize they can’t get the fight to the mat. As Albazi begins to compromise his own cardio trying to overcommit to takedowns, it’s only going to exacerbate the challenges that Kara-France’s pace presents in a five-round fight. Even if Albazi is able to get the fight to the ground, I’m confident enough of Kara-France's ability to scramble and avoid spending multiple minutes in control positions, unlike Albazi’s previous opponents.

I see this as a fight where the level of competition, and the experience gained by being in there with the best in the world, give Kara-France a significant edge. I like that Kara-France is coming off a loss to the world champion and took close to a full year off to improve on some of the things that led to him coming short of UFC gold. Albazi has immense talent, but in my eyes, Saturday night will be a loss that will serve as a learning experience in his development. The bet: Kai Kara-France (-110)