Iraq's Amir Albazi calls for Abu Dhabi title shot after sealing biggest win of UFC career

Flyweight contender secures narrow victory over Kai Kara-France in Las Vegas and targets October 21 event at Etihad Arena

Amir Albazi celebrates after beating Kai Kara-France during UFC Fight Night at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, on June 3, 2023. Getty
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Rising UFC contender Amir Albazi celebrated the greatest professional victory of his career by calling for a title shot in Abu Dhabi later this year.

The Iraqi flyweight, 29, came through a closely contested split decision against No 3-ranked challenger Kai Kara-France in the main event at UFC Fight Night at the promotion's Apex on Sunday morning.

Albazi, the division’s No 7 contender, took the bout 47-48, 48-47, 48-47, lifting his professional record to 17-1. He is now 5-0 in the UFC since debuting in Abu Dhabi in 2020, during the inaugural Fight Island series.

Speaking inside the octagon immediately after his latest victory was confirmed, Albazi called for the winner of next month’s title fight between flyweight champion Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja.

Asked by interviewer Michael Bisping whom he wanted next, Albazi said: “There is no name. There is only one thing I want. And I will get that title. That’s all that matters. Abu Dhabi, October 21. I know they’re coming to Abu Dhabi, it’s my people, give me that fight.

“Pantoja-Moreno, whoever wins that fight, I want to be next. I want to get my title. I’m next. Let’s go.”

The UFC returns to Abu Dhabi on October 21 with UFC 294 at Etihad Arena. As of yet, no bouts have been confirmed for the card, although it will feature at least one world title fight.

Islam Makhachev, the current lightweight champion, is tipped to defend the crown he clinched at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi last year, while welterweight belt-holder Leon Edwards has called for his next defence to take place in the emirate.

On his narrow win over former interim title challenger France, which could have conceivably gone either way, Albazi said: “I know it was a close fight. It’s not how I planned this fight to go. I showed my guts. I showed what I can bring to the table. I’m just having fun, maybe a bit too much fun.

“Next time I come in, I like to put on finishes. A win is a win but next time I’ll put on a better show.”

Albazi has actually competed twice in Abu Dhabi, with the latter his unanimous-decision win against Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 257 in January 2021.

Updated: June 04, 2023, 9:11 AM