Amir Albazi blames himself for close decision, argues he’s next for UFC title shot over Brandon Royval

Amir Albazi blames himself for close decision, argues he’s next for UFC title shot over Brandon Royval

Amir Albazi’s first UFC main event may have been marred by controversy, but after a back-and-forth fight that ended in a split decision over Kai Kara-France, Albazi still left with another win on his record.

It was an important moment for Albazi, who sought to establish himself as a credible threat to the flyweight title and keep his momentum churning after a red-hot 4-0 start his UFC career. And while the result ultimately went his way and kept his streak alive, Albazi knows he has no one to blame but himself for allowing Kara-France to stick around for all five rounds, especially after nearly finishing the fight with an early rear-naked choke submission.

“I had too much fun,” Albazi said during the UFC Vegas 74 post-fight show. “I tried to get into a fist fight. I would be like, ‘You think you’ve got a good right hand, I have a good right hand too.’ I didn’t really follow my game plan. If I would have followed my game plan, I would have taken him out in the third round.”

Even though the fight was close throughout, Albazi is still confident he did enough to secure the victory — although he knows it’s never a certainty when the judges get involved.

“I knew I was doing more — more than him,” Albazi said. “He tried to play a bit more defense, but with the judges nowadays, I have no clue. I leave it up to God. I’m a man of God, so I’m like, whoever is going to [win this], it’s just a learning experience.

“But I pulled out the win. I thought I did a bit more than him so all good. I got the win, now onto the next one, onto the title. That’s what I want.”

With Saturday’s result in the rear-view, Albazi is ready to use his first main-event win to propel himself toward the next goal in his career: Claiming a UFC title at 125 pounds.

That’s why Albazi didn’t call out any single fighter by name after his win but instead kept his attention focused on the upcoming flyweight title bout between reigning champion Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja, which serves as UFC 290’s co-main event in July.

Ideally, Albazi hopes to wait to see who holds the title after Moreno vs. Pantoja and then face the winner at the UFC’s expected Abu Dhabi event in October. That’s despite fellow flyweight contender Brandon Royval, who also sits near the top of the division with a three-fight win streak of his own, including a knockout over Matheus Nicolau in his last outing.

“I’m the next one for the title,” Albazi said. “I know I’m the next one. Brandon Royval says he’s the next one but he pulled out of the fight against me. He cannot go before me. You cannot pull out of a fight and then try to go before me for the title, so I’m next.

“After I get my title, I can fight him for the title defense.”

If the UFC has other ideas — like perhaps fighting Royval in a No. 1 contender’s match — Albazi certainly won’t turn it down, especially as he seeks to prove he’s the best flyweight in the world no matter the opponent.

“I can take anyone in this weight class,” Albazi said. “Anyone in the division that wants to fight, I’m always game. So if they want to give me another one, then I’m going to put on a finish, a good finish.”

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