UFC 234: Kai Kara-France earns split decision win over Raulian Paiva

New Zealand's Kai Kara-France has made it consecutive wins with a tighly-contested split decision victory over Raulian Paiva at UFC 234 in Melbourne.

'Don't Blink' was on the right side of a razor-close decision against the game Brazilian, ultimately doing enough both on the feet and with his takedown defence to get his hand raised.

The quick turnaround after his Performance of the Night victory in Adelaide in December appeared to have little effect as Kara-France maintained a frenetic pace from start to finish to maintain a flawless start to his UFC tenure.

"I felt good going into that fight, I was feeling sharp, I was more than ready to put on a show," Kara-France said post-fight.

"My opponent was durable and tough, tough as they come. Young and hungry, he’s got a bright future, but this isn’t my first rodeo and that’s what pushed me through that fight. All that experience I’ve accumulated over the years, fighting in 13 different countries, being an Ultimate Fighter, I’ve taken a hard route to the UFC."

The Kiwi made a measured start to the bout as he managed to work his way inside the Brazilian's sizeable range, forcing Paiva to feel his power early with some heavy over-hand shots while repelling a handful of takedown attempts.

Paiva had more success with those takedown attempts in the second stanza but was unable to take advantage, Kara-France's ground defence seeing him through any danger, bouncing to his feet on two occasions and responding with a pair of right hands that found their mark.

The Kiwi opened a cut above the Brazilian's left eye late in the round, but may well have been saved by the bell when Paiva looked to have a top-mounted guillotine sunk deep as the buzzer sounded.

After a pause to recover from a low shot to Kara-France's nether regions, the final round saw both fighters exchange on the feet at a pace that never relented.

The Aucklander secured a takedown in the final seconds that may have proved critical in the judge's eyes.

Nursing an injured hand post-fight, Kara-France says he'll now look to take some time off to heal and reassess with his team as to what lies next.

"I’ve taken a fight back to back and I think it is time for me to rest up now and get back in there maybe if the UFC goes to Brisbane later this year."

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