Confusion reigned in a bizarre UFC stoppage as Kiwi Kai Kara-France fought back from the brink of submission to deliver a statement knockout of Rogerio Bontorin on Sunday.
Having spent the vast majority of the opening round on his back defending submission attempts, the NZ flyweight sent his Brazilian rival crashing to the canvas for the knockout – only for referee Herb Dean to leave both fighters unsure of whether the fight had been waved off.
Kara-France walked away in celebration as Dean moved in to hold Bontorin, only for Kara-France to return to his downed opponent and almost throw another shot before the referee finally stepped in to intervene.
Bontorin was furious, and threw his mouthguard at Kara-France, believing he was coming in to punch him again after the fight was over.
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The farcical finish left commentators stunned.
Joe Rogan could only ask: “What is happening. What is happening?”
He continued: “This is so confusing! Kai Kara-France looked like he called it himself. Then it looked like he thought Herb Dean didn’t stop it and he was gonna run back and hit him again. Then Bontorin got excited and got mad at him. I don’t understand what happened there.”
Dean hadn’t initially waved the fight off – the official gesture to end the fight – but had bumped Kara-France out of the way, and had put his hands on the downed opponent – both signs of the fight being over.
Kara-France raved about his impressive comeback win, after escaping multiple rear-naked choke attempts and a body triangle earlier in the round.
“I was caught early, weathered the storm, got back up and turned into my guard,” he said.
“I just had to stay in it. I train my jiu jitsu just as much. Just because it’s City Kick Boxing, doesn’t mean we don’t train wrestling and jiu jitsu. We put in the work and I just had to stay calm.
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“I’ve been in the sport for so many years now, and once I felt that he couldn’t get the finish, it gave me confidence.
“I turned it around, hit him once with a nice right hook and I felt it land. Next time I sat down on it a little bit more and it was a Mark Hunt walkaway. Vintage.”
Kara-France improves to 22-9 and Bontorin drops to 16-3.
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