Alexander Volkanovski has jetted into the United States to provide “energy” for close mate and training partner Kai Kara-France, who he predicts will claim the interim UFC flyweight title in a gritty five-round war at UFC 277.
Speaking with News Corp this week, the UFC featherweight champ confirmed he will be backstage with Kara-France this Sunday (AEST), supporting the Aucklander as he prepare for the biggest fight of his life against Brendon Moreno in Dallas, Texas.
Volkanovski has developed a strong bond with Auckland’s City Kickboxing crew – which includes the likes of Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell and Kara-France – while also crediting the team for playing a key role in his own rise to Australia’s No.1 fighter.
Kara-France has also welcomed the champ’s presence, revealing how he is also now being driven by the chance to be part of an “Anzac takeover”.
With Volkanovski and Adesanya already holding UFC straps, the 29-year-old can this weekend become the third team member to win gold against Moreno, who he previously lost a decision to in 2019.
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“With the Anzac fighters, I really do feel like we’re all one,” Kara-France said.
“We gravitate towards each other.
“And it really is the Anzac takeover right now.
“Ever since I came into the UFC I’ve been saying this wave was coming — and now you’re seeing it. So to be part of it all too is really cool.”
Asked for a UFC 277 prediction meanwhile, Volkanovski tipped the fight to go all 25 minutes, despite his great mate boasting genuine KO power.
According to UFC analytics, Kara-France also lands 4.8 significant strikes per minute, which is not only up on Moreno (3.5) but also the company average of 2.4.
“Kai is such an exciting flyweight because he finishes people,” Volkanovski said. “He owns a crazy finish weight for his division.
“But Moreno, he’s tough.
“And I feel like he’s going to be there for the whole fight.
“So it will be close.
“But I see Kai edging out the rounds.
“Moreno will stay there, being persistent, stubborn.
“But Kai is on another level again. So while I think this one goes all the way until that final bell, Kai will always be one step ahead.”
According to TAB odds. Kara-France is the $2.65 outsider, with Moreno $1.48.
Already back training just four weeks after breaking his hand, Volkanovski revealed this week he is keen to go on standby for October’s UFC 280 bout between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title.
Asked how he would help his friend prepare, the champ continued: “We’ll go backstage but I won’t interfere too much.
“Just give Kai whatever energy I can.
“Be there for whatever he needs.”
UFC 277 will also be topped by one of the most anticipated rematches in women’s MMA history, with bantamweight champ Julianna Pena defending against Amanda Nunes – aka the greatest female fighter ever.
Back in December, Pena scored one of the great UFC upsets when she defeated Nunes, in the process ending a hyped run that had seen the Brazilian go twelve fights without loss while also claiming the UFC featherweight strap.
Despite being the challenger, Nunes is a $1.34 TAB favourite, while Pena is $3.25.
Originally published as UFC 277: Alex Volkanovski tipping Kai Kara-France to claim flyweight title over Brendon Moreno
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