Kiwi flyweight Kai Kara-France has completed an incredible comeback knockout win against Rogerio Bontorin at UFC 259.
'Don't Blink' lived up to his moniker, withstanding a suffocating grappling attack from his Brazilian opponent for almost the entire first round, before shaking him off and flooring him with a three-shot combo to claim a 'walk-off' knockout with just seconds remaining.
Kara-France's victory is the first of his seven-fight UFC tenure to finish inside the distance and reaffirms his standing as a title contender, after his championship aspirations hit a judder bar against Brandon Royval in September.
The fight ended in confusion, with Kara-France raising his hands in victory, before referee Dean had officially waved off the contest.
Realising he may still have work to do, Kara-France rushed back over to the floored Bontorin, until Dean halted his charge. The Brazilian appeared to mistake Kara-France's rush as taunting and hurled his mouthguard at the Kiwi, as be began his second victory lap.
Considering the adversity he overcame to have his hand raised, the win is arguably the Aucklander's most impressive yet.
Bontorin is regarded as one of the most dangerous submission experts in the division, and after securing a takedown early in the round and cinching in a suffocating body triangle, Kara-France's fate seemed sealed.
But Kara-France's grappling defence held strong, fighting Bontorin's hands relentlessly and refusing to open any window underneath his chin for the Brazlian to sneak his arm through.
Eventually, he was able to shake Bontorin off his back, then immediately pressed forward, and delivered the uppercut and right hand to secure a memorable triumph.
"I just put all the flyweights on notice," Kara-France told UFC commentator Joe Rogan afterwards. "A lot of the guys have fights coming up, but anyone in that top five can get it.
"I can avenge losses with rematches - Royval, Morenpo, Figureido - you can all get it. Let's go."
The win takes the City Kickboxing product to 22-9 and should see him advance from his spot at No.8 in the official flyweight rankings.
His victory was sweetened further by a second consecutive post-fight bonus for 'Performance of the night', pocketing an extra $US50,000 ($NZ69,784).
Kara-France was one of three Kiwi fighters to compete at UFC 259, with Carlos Ulberg earlier falling to a second-round defeat in his debut against Kennedy Nzechukwu and Israel Adesanya outpointed by Jan Blachowicz.
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