UFC Betting Pick: Kai Kara France vs Brandon Royval

We are headed back to Fight Island.

No more small cage and extra action.

I can’t wait to see Israel Adesanya run around the 30-foot Octagon like a gazelle.

I kid.

Adesanya is going to have a very difficult fight on his hands for at least the first 10-15 minutes.

Paulo Costa’s style as well as recent history tells us that he is going to slow down significantly in the second half of the fight.

He has simply been too much and overwhelmed most all of his opponents in the past and that style is tiring.

A mental calm can go a long way, though.

We will see.

Speaking of running around the cage, we might see Israel’s teammate and fellow Kiwi, Kai Kara France take a similar approach.

Kai faces a different style of opponent with submission seeker Brandon Royval this weekend.

Just before he made his debut with the organization in his previous fight, Brandon was the champion over at Legacy Fighting Alliance, a farm club feeder, if you will, for the UFC.

He is very very aggressive going after his opponents on the mat but what holds him back is his lack of dominant wrestling.

He can take some guys down, for sure, but Kai is a striker with a 90% takedown defense percentage.

That’s a tough one on paper…

In the big Octagon too.

Those 25ers are like minnows in an ocean.

If the odds were say (-170) for Kara France, I would probably go in that direction pretty quickly.

My gut actually told me Royval the second I heard about this fight.

It’s a tough call but a fun one, I think.

The fight will be exciting.

I don’t think Royval has ever been in a boring one.

As always, the best in the business, BetOnline.AG has some of the most competitive betting lines on the world wide web.

Let’s take a look at the ol’ tale of the tape.

Kai Kara France Brandon Royval
Fight Record: 21-8 Fight Record: 11-4
Age: 27 Age: 28
Height: 5’4” Height: 5’9”
Reach: 69” Reach: 68”
From: Auckland, New Zealand From: Littleton, Colorado
Fight Camp: City Kickboxing Fight Camp: factoryX Muay Thai

You really have to use multiple sources when looking up a fighter’s reach. It’s something that doesn’t really change over time. I guess some of them are looking to surprise their opponents.

Tapology.com, who I use constantly for fight records and other information, had Kai Kara France’s reach listed at 64 inches.

UFC.com, who is kind of a mess themselves surprisingly, has him at 69 inches.

Google along with a couple of other sites had him at 69 inches and looking at him, his arms are incredibly long.

It makes sense that Kai’s jab is his best weapon.

The Kiwi has about twice the professional experience as his opponent even though Brandon is a year older.

Both combatants are coming out of fantastic fight camps.

  • Brandon is at elevation in colorful Colorado under the tutelage of Marc Montoya so we know he will be well prepared and should not have a problem going all 3 rounds if that’s the case.
  • Kai is traveling an extra long way to Abu Dhabi as everyone had to go to Las Vegas first for a chartered flight but they were chilling in first class on the way to the Middle East so I think he will be alright.

The big takeaways from the measurables are Brandon’s 5-inch height advantage and Kai’s edge in experience, particularly high level UFC experience.

Let’s break these two athletes down with 5 attributes I feel are the most important when selecting a fighter to bet on.

I can be pretty analytical and that can lead to paralysis.

It has happened to me in sparring before and I just don’t like it.

I know I will probably end up switching out or adding some attributes to this list as time goes on but for now, let’s focus on these 5.

We will give each fighter a score from 1-5 and use this as a supplement to make our call as to who we think will win the fight.

Then we have to look at the betting odds and compare them with our blind betting odds we set for the fight already.

Before we get to that, let’s score some skills!

Big 5 Kara France Royval
Striking Volume 4.0 2.0
Conditioning 4.5 4.0
Fight IQ 4.0 3.5
Durability 3.5 4.0
Heart/Mental Strength 4.0 5.0

In his last 4 fights inside the Octagon, Kai Kara France has landed more significant strikes in the second round than he did in the first and landed more in the third than he did the second.

I would say his conditioning is there. His grappling slow twitch muscle endurance hasn’t been tested, though, at the high level so I can’t give him a 5.0

Kai hasn’t been finished in the past 5 years and Brandon has never been finished in his career.

Kara France does have those 8 losses but it’s evident now that he just jumped in the deep end a little early.

Some fighters can let that discourage them and never bud into superstars.

Kai has done that and I honestly had a hard time not rating him higher for a lot of these.

I do love his striking volume. The stats are there but he only lands at a 48% clip and his style and weapons are mostly basic.

My coach always told me to be brilliant at the basics and I am a big believer in that philosophy for both striking and grappling but at the highest level, we have to nitpick.

  • Brandon does not land a ton of strikes although he does have surprising power using his long arms in a whipping style of boxing.
  • Kai has the 90% takedown defense and Brandon is more of a BJJ guy than a wrestler.

We are in the big cage.

I am definitely going against my original gut feeling here.

Normally, that’s a terrible idea but we will see.

Let’s see if the betting odds match up well with our skill breakdown.

Kai Kara France (-226) vs Brandon Royval (+191)

Over 2.5 Rounds:
-175
Under 2.5 Rounds:
+155
Fight goes to a decision:
-155
Fight does not go to a decision:
+125

I really like the fight goes to a decision prop bet.

“Raw Dawg” Royval, though, is a kill or be killed kinda guy.

Remember, I said a second ago, though, that he has never been finished.

It’s not likely to happen from a jab-heavy volume striker with great footwork like Kai Kara France, though, especially in a big Octagon.

The Kiwi has gone to a decision in 5 of his 5 UFC fights.

I do believe that Royval has the ability to submit France but I don’t think the opportunity will present itself.

You can get the favorite to win on the judges’ scorecards but at (-130), why not just be smart and take the fight goes to a decision at (-155)?

I think that’s the move.

Path to Victory

Kai Kara France

Kai just needs to settle in, use his superior footwork to move in and out with the jab.

He won’t have to worry about keeping his level very low because he will already have the center of gravity advantage to defend the likely takedown attempt.

That’s it.

He doesn’t have to land many right hands or kicks, I don’t believe.

He needs to play off of the jab and I think Kai will be alright.

Brandon Royval

Brandon needs to pressure his opponent and pressure him some more.

Royval is going to have to accept that he is going to have to eat two to land one and eat three or four to possibly get a takedown.

That will be the key for him in this matchup.

Other than a calf kick or hurting Kai with a massive punch, the only path to victory I see for Brandon on Saturday night is to get his opponent to the mat, control, and submit him there.

I don’t believe Royval’s wrestling is good enough to take down the Kiwi multiple times controlling him for minutes each go.

He is going to need the sub to get the W here in all likelihood.

Prediction

I am going with the fight goes to a decision betting line at (-155).

That denotes a 62% chance of implied probability.

I think this fight goes to a decision 8 out of 10 times these two men fight.

The dog has never been finished and the favorite hasn’t finished anyone in the UFC.

My Pick
Fight Goes to a Decision!

In Conclusion

This is going to be a fun fight!

Royval will fight for your money. I’ll tell you that.

So, if you want a dog to get behind, maybe he’s your guy.

Against a guy so technically sound who makes so few mistakes like Kai Kara France, I just can’t do it.

I don’t like to play straight bets over (-200), though, very much. So, we took the decision line. It’s hard to argue against the value on that line.

We have the large Octagon working for us too.

I like it.

Get your bets in now, guys, and enjoy the scraps on Saturday.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.