UFC Auckland: NZ's Kai Kara-France bounces back with win over Tyson Nam

Flyweight Kai Kara France got the Kiwi contingent off to a winning start at UFC Auckland, claiming a unanimous decision over Tyson Nam.

The City Kickboxing product varied his striking and worked his jab to excellent effect against the game Hawaiian, finding plenty of success with his kicks and using his edge in speed to land consistently on the counter.

Nam was the aggressor for the majority of the fight but often found himself walking into shots, and while he landed a handful of powerful blows of his own, was constantly beaten to the punch.

The victory puts Kara-France back in the winner's circle, after his close loss to Brandon Moreno at UFC 245 in December, and will likely lift him back inside the top five of the official divisional rankings.

"I'm kind of just speechless," Kara-France said post-fight."Ever since I started this sport this is what I wanted to do, be on a card in my hometown at Spark Arena.

"I missed out the first two times, so to be here in the third and get the win - it's a special moment for me."Being a young Maori growing up there wasn't a blueprint for how to get in the UFC….this is my All Blacks jersey.

"After a tight opening two rounds, Kara-France heeded the advice of his coach Eugene Bareman to leave no doubt in the judges' eyes by the end of the bout.

"He told me he was loading everything and that I'd see it, and not to rush. Let him load and then we just pick him apart from there"I think I rocked him in the third, I saw his legs buckle a little bit, and then I just had to keep that pressure on.

"He did land a few hard shots…but i didn't really feel it, I just went numb and just let the energy of the stadium deal with it. That's what got me through the fight."

Kara-France worked Spark Arena into a frenzy with the choice of 'Poi E' as his entrance, then took the chance at the start of the final round to rally his compatriots to fever pitch.

"I had to play to my strengths and 'Poi E' is such an iconic song for all generations. It was definitely something special having the flag raised above my head and seeing everyone's reaction... really getting in behind me and showing their love and support and it made me rise to the occasion."

'Don't Blink' now has his sights set on a place on the rumoured Perth card later in 2020.