Kara-France working through checklists on way to UFC title shot

Kai Kara-France celebrates his win over Cody Garbrandt.

Kiwi UFC fighter Kai Kara-France regularly falls back on a checklist that covers both his career and wider life goals to keep himself grounded.

"I'm one of those guys that just ticks things off the bucket list every day," Kara-France told 1News.

"I've got small, little lists that are daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and that's just how I operate.

"Last year I got to tick off beating a former world champion and this year I've moved in to a new house.

"I've got to be doing something to get better and in the bigger picture it all pays off."

That pay off could come next weekend at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Daukaus, when Kara-France takes on second-ranked flyweight Askar Askarov in Columbus, Ohio.

The fight, first announced by 1News in January, is being regarded as a title eliminator with the winner likely to go on to face champion Deiveson Figueiredo.

Kara-France went straight into camp after the bout was confirmed, working alongside the rest of his teammates at City Kickboxing in a busy time for the Auckland gym.

"I've been pushing with Dan Hooker, we've been in camp together with him fighting this weekend," he said.

Kai Kara-France.

Along with Hooker's featherweight fight in London against Arnold Allen this Sunday, the Auckland gym also had three fighters on last month's card at UFC 271, where Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title against Robert Whittaker.

Kara-France said having teammates around him all pushing themselves as they work towards their own goals has been a big factor in his rise in the UFC's flyweight ranks.

"There's so many fighters in our gym that it's just an ongoing machine - there's no offseason, it's just train and once you finish your fight, you have a few weeks off and then you get back into it because you've got to get ready for the next guy's fight and help them out.

"Then, when it's your turn to fight again, they turn up for you. It's a great place to be."

That support network extends outside the gym for Kara-France too, with longtime sponsor and fightwear brand Engage also helping the 28-year-old complete business goals with his own clothing.

"[Engage Founder] Ash Belcastro is my manager now, not just my sponsor, so just having that guidance in business, he helps me out," he said.

"Having my own brand, KKF, a street brand, a clothing brand, we do collabs now and it's awesome to have that input in designs that I would wear personally."

That input can also be seen in the "We Are All Fighters" campaign that was launched prior to UFC 271. Kara-France said the Engage campaign drives a special message for him and others such as Adesanya and Carlos Ulberg who are also sponsored by the brand.

"It's all in us and you've just got to channel it," Kara-France said.

"You might have a world champion in the gym but there can be a regular 9-5 worker who just wants to better their lives as well.

"There's no egos here - just people wanting to get better."

Kara-France has a chance to prove just that with another ticked off next Sunday.


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