Mixed martial arts: Fatherhood has given Kiwi UFC star Kai Kara-France new focus on fighting

Kiwi UFC fighter Kai Kara-France is putting family first, as he quarantines in Christchurch.

Just over two weeks removed from the best performance of his career, Kara-France is still riding a wave of exhilaration after scoring his first knockout inside the Octagon.

Kara-France's first-round stoppage of Brazilian Rogerio Bontorin earned the flyweight contender a Performance of the Night, US$50,000 bonus, which couldn't have come at a better time for the 27-year-old.

Kara-France and his partner recently welcomed their first child, Cobi, and the City Kickboxing prospect admits adding a child to the mix has given him extra motivation to become a world champion.

Speaking to Newshub, the No.7-ranked UFC flyweight says he wants to make his son proud. 

"It just lights a fire underneath you," Kara-France says of being a father.

"He has his whole life to depend on you, as does your partner.

"So the pressure is different -  but it's good pressure and it's going to make you be the best version of yourself. 

"To be able to do what I do and get the finish and get the win just means so much, and to know I'm bettering my life and my family's life, I'm just so proud and I can't wait to go back home and celebrate with them."

Kara-France appeared seconds from defeat in his UFC 259 bout, after a slip forced the fight to the ground, with Bontorin coming close on several submission attempts.

But the City Kickboxing star stayed calm, recovered position and got the fight back to a standup exchange, where he thrives.

Kara-France rocked Bontorin with a vicious right hand, who took a nose dive to the canvas and the fight was over in a flash. 

"It feels kinda surreal that last weekend happened," Kara-France tells Newshub.

"So much preparation, so much buildup and it all changes in one weekend 

"Really proud of myself for turning up and getting back in the win column and getting a finish, doing it all with the added motivation of being a new father and sacrificing my time away, and it wasn't for nothing - it all worked out."

Kai Kara France lands a big hot
Kai Kara France lands a big hot Photo credit: Getty
Mixed martial arts: Fatherhood has given Kiwi UFC star Kai Kara-France new focus on fighting
Photo credit: Getty

Under the pressure of having a former Brazilian national Jiu-jitsu champion on his back, Kara-France admits he was in a bad spot.

But the former Mt Albert Grammar football standout tells Newshub he knew he had the technique to survive - and reveals a secret training regime that proved to be a pathway to success.

"We train under the water with kettlebells and we'd be under all this pressure and all this stress, so I've been in worse places. 

"The attempts were tight, but I never felt in danger of me tapping or going to sleep.

"I just kept telling myself I'm the best in the world and I've just got to show the world 

"It just took 10 seconds once I found my range and I threw with bad intentions.

"Now I can cement myself in the top seven and hopefully get a top-five guy in my next fight."

It wasn't all good news for the CKB team in Las Vegas. Teammate Carlos Ulberg came out second-best in a barn-burning fight against Nigerian Kennedy Nzechukwu.

And UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya suffered the first loss of his combat sports career, losing a decision to light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

But Kara-France says losing is part of the business they are in and it's all about how you bounce back from adversity - and he's predicting just that for both.

Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya post fight
Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya post fight Photo credit: Getty

"Carlos smelt blood a bit too early and the guy was tough -  it's a guy providing for his mum and his family and with a guy like that you've got to take that him out to get the win.

"Ultimately Carlos got himself tired and got caught, but he earned a fight bonus, which is good. He'll learn from that and will come back better.

"With Israel, he's always fighting the best in the world. It was such a close fight and it could've gone either way.

"He's his own harshest critic and he's been watching his fight back and he's already looking at the rematch and looking at things that he could've done differently.

"Everyone is hungry to get back in the gym. It's what we do, it's what we love to do - CKB is the best gym in the world 

"The coaches and guys that train us - they take losing personally 

"Israel is still the middleweight champion of the world and for Carlos, he's going to pick himself back up as well."

As for Kara-France, a big fight against a contender is likely, but for now, he just can't wait to spend time with his new number one fan.

"[Cobi] recognises my voice and he smiles and he knows it's me. It's just an awesome feeling that is hard to explain."