UFC: Kiwi Kai Kara-France rejects 'Fight Island' invitation - for now

Kiwi flyweight Kai Kara-France has turned down a spot on UFC's first 'Fight Island' card, but won't rule out a future appearance on the isolated venue.

The mixed martial arts franchise has been forced to cancel several fight cards, due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting president Dane White to consider alternate plans.

The promoter has secured an "undisclosed location", set to stage its first fight night on May 10 (NZ time).

Top 10-ranked flyweight Kara-France was offered a bout against American Alex Perez, but after talking to coaches and family, he felt the risk was too high, given all the unknowns, so he turned it down. 

Kara-France has told Newshub there were still too many questions that needed answering around fighter safety guarantees, how many of his team were allowed to travel and how he was supposed to get there, given the current international travel ban.

But the City Kickboxing slugger is keen to see how the first night goes, before considering future 'Island' events. 

"I'd love to take that fight, but when things clear up a bit," Kara-France says on the Fight Club podcast.

"I'll sit back and watch that first event on the island, and if it runs smoothly, then I'm all for it. 

"I don't want to go into a fight where I have to social distance with no coach and no cornerman. I don't want to go in by myself and do my own weight cut. 

'You need your team to support you through all these situations to put on your best performance. When you are fighting top guys, there is a lot of risk there.

"I don't want to put myself or others at risk, when I don't need to. I'm down to fight, if it's safe for everyone."

If permitted by the Government, Kara-France says the most likely scenario that would get him to the island would involve his City Kickboxing teammates.

Top-five UFC lightweight Dan Hooker was days away from securing a marquee fight with former title challenger Dustin Poirer, before the COVID-19 lockdown kicked in. If Hooker and a few of his other teammates were able to fight the same night, Kara-France says that would be a more realistic prospect. 

"If me and Dan [Hooker] and Shane [Young] and Brad [Riddell] were on the same card on 'Fight Island', then that would be fine... we have done that before.  

"We could corner each other, we could train together and start our own little bubble, if that's possible.

"There are just these little things we need to suss out and then we can make it happen."

Those little things might be possible when the country hits Alert Level 3 on Tuesday. 

Kara-France reveals that the City Kickboxing team has considered moving an expanded 'bubble' into the gym, isolating themselves together for two weeks, training and preparing to fight - but only if that is allowed within restrictions.

"I don't see why not, as long as it's safe. Everything we need is at the gym - showers, toilet and kitchen - so we could make that happen. 

"The rules are there for a reason, but if it's possible, then yeah. We just have to make sure there are regulations there and we all get tested, so no-one is at risk."

The 27-year-old is currently ranked No.7 in the UFC flyweight division with an Octagon record of four wins, one loss.