Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 74 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow night (Sat., June 3, 2023) on ESPN and ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a flyweight main event between Top 10 title hopefuls Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi, a five-round headliner with major title implications for late 2023 and beyond.
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the featherweight scrap between Alex Caceres and Daniel Pineda, check out Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 74 preliminary card — which he wrote during the previews ahead of The Little Mermaid remake — by clicking here and here. For the latest “Kara-France vs. Albazi” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.
For the rest of the UFC Vegas 74 main card predictions click here.
125 lbs.: Kai Kara-France vs. Amir Albazi
Kai “Don’t Blink” Kara-France
Record: 24-10, 1 NC | Age: 30 | Betting line: -115
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 10 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’4“ | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.70 | Striking accuracy: 40%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.57 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 0.51 (25% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 87%
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Brandon Moreno
Amir “The Prince” Albazi
Record: 16-1 | Age: 29 | Betting line: -105
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 9 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’5“ | Reach: 68” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.54 | Striking accuracy: 43%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.47 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 2.47 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 66%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Knockout win over Alessandro Costa
Kai Kara-France is currently ranked No. 3 in the world at 125 pounds, which is an impressive feat considering he doesn’t hold a single victory over anyone currently seeded in the Top 15. That said, the 30 year-old Kiwi is still hanging around the Top 5 based on his defeat of Dagestani “Bullet” Askar Askarov, though it was later revealed that Askarov was suffering from health issues and was subsequently granted his release. Kara-France took on the nickname “Don’t Blink” after consecutive knockout wins over Rogerio Bontorin and Cody Garbrandt, who are a combined 2-7 with one No Contest across their last five fights. Aside from those two performances, Kara-France has been to the judges’ scorecards six times under the UFC banner and was finished twice in defeats to Brandon Royval and Brandon Moreno. He comes from a good camp at City Kickboxing, training alongside lightweight veteran Dan Hooker and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, I just think he’s been underwhelming as a flyweight contender. It would have helped to see Kara-France perform against the likes of Deiveson Figueiredo or Alexandre Pantoja, two of the most dangerous fighters at 125 pounds, but somehow “Don’t Blink” was able to avoid those two fights on his way to the Top 5.
That’s a place Amir Albazi has yet to see after four fights in UFC though he did manage to claim the No. 7 spot, thanks to four straight wins with three nasty finishes. It’s a little early to anoint him the next big thing at flyweight and I don’t think anyone is breaking out the party hats for victories over Malcolm Gordon or Zhalgas Zhumagulov, but the 29 year-old “Prince” has shown a ton of promise in his short time with the Endeavor-owned promotion. We also can’t fault Albazi for his strength of schedule since he was previously paired with ranked fighters on multiple occasions — including Brandon Royval — and each time, his opponents were forced to withdraw. Albazi, who fled Iraq at age seven before eventually finding his way to London (which you can hear in his accent), bounced around the International circuit and even picked up a pair of wins for Bellator MMA before landing on the UFC roster. “The Prince” currently trains at Xtreme Couture and resides in Las Vegas, the fight capital of the world. The bookies have this bout nearly even on the money line and that sounds about right. Kara-France has more experience and faced the better competition, though I think Albazi is more dangerous in every department. Expect the wrestling to be the deciding factor here as Albazi eventually gets Kara-France to the floor and finds a way to sink in the submission.
Prediction: Albazi def. Kara-France by submission
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Daniel Pineda
Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres
Record: 20-13, 1 NC | Age: 34 | Betting line: -175
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 9 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 5’10“ | Reach: 73” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.16 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.92 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 0.57 (70% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 64%
Current Ranking: No. 15 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Julian Erosa
Daniel “The Pit” Pineda
Record: 28-14, 3 NC | Age: 37 | Betting line: +145
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 19 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 3 KO/TKO, 6 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.32 | Striking accuracy: 49%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.03 | Striking Defense: 48%
Takedown Average: 1.47 (24% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 48%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Tucker Lutz
Alex Caceres turns 35 before the end of the month and that’s one of those stats that makes me feel old, because it seems like just yesterday that “Bruce Leeroy” was dazzling MMA fans as a spunky young up-and-comer on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter. In reality, that was nearly 13 years ago but it says a lot about Caceres that he’s still fighting for UFC and even holds a place in the Division Top 15. In fact, Caceres has never looked better in his combat sports career, putting together a 6-1 record across his last seven with three of those victories coming by way of knockout or submission. That includes his technical knockout win over Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 66 late last year. “Bruce Leeroy” has seven post-fight performance bonuses including three “Fight of the Night” honors so I’m expecting another impressive showing this weekend in “Sin City.” Unfortunately, Caceres has a “live by the sword” mentality, which may explain why seven of his 13 losses have come by way of submission. Or maybe he’s just really bad at jiu jitsu, defensively speaking.
Daniel Pineda is a few years older than Caceres and turns 38 in August. This marks his second run under the UFC banner having previously compiled a 3-4 record from 2012-14 before returning to the regional circuit. “The Pit” has been a complete disaster over the last few years, racking up three “No Contests” and a pair of failed drug tests in two separate promotions. In fact, Pineda rejoined UFC right after his PFL playoffs collapse in late 2019 and went 1-1 inside the Octagon before Andre Fili treated his eye the way Minnesota Fats treated a lonely 9 ball hanging around a corner pocket. That bout ended in a “No Contest” but it didn't matter since Pineda flunked his drug test anyway. Following his suspension, “The Pit” returned to sub Tucker Lutz at UFC San Antonio. Pineda can win this fight if he sticks to his wrestling and works for submissions. The more likely scenario is that he tries to bang it out on the feet and gets schooled, similar to the way he was getting lit up by Fili before the eye poke of doom. Caceres has his own share of defensive troubles but he’s proven to be far more consistent over the long haul.
Prediction: Caceres def. Pineda by technical knockout
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UFC Vegas 74 main card predictions RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 74 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 74 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here and here. For the updated and finalized “Kara-France vs. Albazi” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ line up click here.