Mixed Martial Arts: Kiwi Kai Kara-France suffers setback in UFC title bid with defeat to Amir Albazi

Kiwi flyweight Kai Kara-France has suffered a significant setback to his hopes of capturing a UFC title, falling to a narrow defeat against Iraqi Amir Albazi at Las Vegas.

The result consigns him to consecutive losses for the first time in his UFC career, after his third-round TKO defeat to current division champion Brandon Moreno last July.

Third-ranked Kara-France had hoped victory over Albazi would catapult him back into title contention, but the outcome will likely see him slide down the pecking order.

Kai Kara-France in action against Amir Abazi
Kai Kara-France in action against Amir Abazi. Photo credit: Getty Images

Albazi is now unbeaten in five UFC outings, but had not faced an opponent of Kara-France's quality among his previous victims.

On his feet, the Kiwi dominating striking statistics, throwing and connecting with more than twice as many as his rival, but found himself tested on the ground, where Albazi was in his element.

The London-based Iraqi dominated the third round, when he took Kara-France down and close to submission, before the City Kickboxing fighter miraculously escaped and ended the round on top, raining blows.

Albazi controlled more than six minutes of the five five-minute rounds, while Kara-France was credited with less than a minute of superiority.

The result shocked the UFC world, with training partner Israel Adesanya tweeting his outrage at the judging.

"Hoooow many times will they rob athletes of their moments of glory, of their money, their livelihood for their family," he posted. "They need to expire quickly and go.

"Mike Bell was the only judge to score this properly, the other two deff need to disappear."

Experienced MMA journalist Ariel Helwani had Kara-France winning, as did former heavyweight champion-now commentator Daniel Cormier.

"I know it was a close fight," admitted Albazi. "It's not how I planned for this fight to go, but it is what it is and I showed my guts.

"I showed what I can bring to the table and I can stand with these guys, no problem at all. I don't fee the punches or anything, I'm just having fun... maybe too much fun.

"A win is a win, but next you see me, I'll put on a better show and give a finish for you guys."

With American Moreno scheduled for a title defence against Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja next month, Albazi has called for his shot against the winner, when Abu Dhabi hosts UFC 294 in October.