Amir Albazi expects title shot in Abu Dhabi with UFC on ESPN 45 main event win

LAS VEGAS – Amir Albazi is not short on confidence going into his first UFC headliner on Saturday at UFC on ESPN 45.

Albazi (16-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) will attempt to continue the hot start to his UFC tenure when he meets former interim title challenger Kai Kara-France (24-10 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in a five-round flyweight bout, which takes place at the UFC Apex and airs on ESPN.

It’s a big opportunity for Albazi against his highest profile opponent to date, and he fully intends to take advantage of the situation. If all goes according to plan, Albazi said there will be no questions about who is the next contender for the UFC 290 title fight between Brandon Moreno and Alexandre Pantoja on July 8.

“I don’t need to do a callout,” Albazi told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 45 media day. “After this fight, they’re going to know I’m next. I know I’m next. I want to fight in Abu Dhabi for the title. I’m going to finish Kai this Saturday night, then I’m going to see how it plays out with Pantoja vs. Moreno. Either one, may the best man win, and I’m next in Abu Dhabi.”

Albazi said he recognizes his resume doesn’t scream with top talent that would make him undeniable for a title fight. However, he said that’s largely circumstantial. He’s had multiple matchups with ranked opponents scheduled, and they have fallen through largely through no fault of his own.

He’s thrilled Kara-France accepted a bout with him and made it to fight week, and now he’s ready to deliver a statement to the UFC and the rest of the 125-pound division under the spotlight of a headlining opportunity.

“He’s a good opponent,” Albazi said. “Of course, he’s No. 3 (in the UFC rankings). But I’m the next champion for the title. So whoever they want to put in front of me, I’ll be ready. … I’m going to show people why I’m the next champion.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 45.