UFC: Israel Adesanya unleashes on judges after teammate Kai Kara-France's controversial loss to Amir Albazi

Kai Kara-France's City Kickboxing teammate Israel Adesanya is among those outraged by the judges' decision to deny the flyweight what many believed should have been a straightforward victory in Sunday's (NZ time) clash with Amir Albazi at UFC Vegas 74.

The pair engaged in an absorbing five-round duel in the headline act, with the Kiwi seemingly coming home the stronger of the two courtesy of his distinct striking advantage and his success in nullifying his Iraqi opponent's vaunted grappling.

But when the scorecards were announced, it was Albazi who had his hand raised - leaving Kara-France dejected and sending social media into a frenzy, claiming 'Don't Blink' had been a victim of a robbery by the judges.

Official judges Chris Lee and Sal D’Amato scored the fight 48-47 for Albazi, while Mike Bell also turned in a 48-47, but in favour of Kara-France.

Apoplectic at the outcome, 'The Last Stylebender' rushed to the defence of his colleague, firing a series of tweets in a heated salvo directed towards the judges.

"Nah bro…F**k yous!!!" Adesanya wrote in the first of four tweets.

Kai Kara-France lands a shot on Amir Albazi.
Kai Kara-France lands a shot on Amir Albazi. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Fire Chris Lee & Sal Deez nuts," he continued in a second message, apparently before the scores were even read.

"I tweeted that before even seeing the scorecards because I knew them two will f**k it up!!” the middleweight world champion wrote in a third tweet. 

"How many times will they rob athletes of their moments of glory, of [sic] their money, their livelihood for their family? 

For each bout, UFC fighters are paid a base salary for making weight and fighting, which is typically doubled if they're able to win.

"F**k them c**ts, they need to expire quickly and go. Mike Bell was the only judge to score this properly, the other two deff need to disappear."

Kara-France appeared to have won at least three of the five rounds and while the striking numbers don't always tell the full picture of the fight, the lopsided totals in all categories paint a convincing picture for the Aucklander.

According to the UFC's official statistics, Kara-France connected on 133 of 323 total strikes compared to Albazi's 64 of 173.

He also had a sizeable edge in significant strikes (99/283 against Albazi's 43/125), landing both of his takedown attempts while defending eight of Albazi's nine efforts to take him to the mat.

Judges don't have access to those numbers during or after the fight.

Judge Chris Lee was the subject of most of the scrutiny due to his decision to score the fourth round - the most definitive of the fight for Kara-France - in Albazi's favour.

Adesanya finished his spiel by suggesting judges need to be answerable for their decisions.

"Start interviewing the judges after fights," he wrote. "Hold them accountable for their work."

Kara-France later took to social media himself to poke fun at the decision, making a reference to NZ Warriors' perceived injustices at the hands of the NRL referees - a plight recently brought to the spotlight by Jason Paris, chief executive of the team's primary sponsor One NZ.

Kara-France is the Warriors' official wrestling coach.

'Don't Blink' followed that up with another tweet, thanking the public for their support and insisting he'd already put the incident behind him and is ready to move on.

"The whole world knows who won but regardless, we keep our head high and we keep moving forward," he added.

"Appreciate all the love and support from everyone. Time for family and then we get back to work."

The split-decision result was the second of Kara-France's UFC career (24-11), after coming out on the right side of the ledger against Raulian Paiva back in 2019.

Currently sitting at No.3 in the flyweight rankings, the loss will see Kara-France drop down the division's official pecking order to the fringe of title contention.  

The defeat is his second straight, following his TKO defeat to champion Brandon Moreno in their interim flyweight title bout at UFC 277 in July last year.