Kai Kara-France knows he could become the face of the UFC's flyweight division.
For a division that had an uncertain future only a matter of months ago, the flyweights have made a massive resurgence in the UFC and the 26-year-old Kiwi is one of the fighters at the heart of it.
Kara-France maintained his unbeaten record in the UFC in China on Saturday night with a unanimous decision over American Mark De La Rosa, extending his current winning streak to eight fights – three of which have come in the UFC.
It was a polished performance from the Kiwi, who fought off a number of takedown attempts from the submission specialist and picked the American apart in the striking game.
Kara-France, ranked among the division's top 10, only made his UFC debut in December last year but has already set his sights on the pinnacle of the promotion.
"One more win, four in a row, it would be hard to deny me (a title shot) especially with the momentum and exposure the Anzacs are getting right now," he said after beating De La Rosa.
"I'm young, I'm hungry, I'm exciting and I'm only getting better."
Making his professional mixed martial arts debut in 2010, Kara-France has almost 30 fights to his name and competed in season 24 of the Ultimate Fighter. While he might be a new name to UFC fans, he's well established in the game.
Coming away from his bout against De La Rosa relatively unscathed, Kara-France had already turned his attention to trying to feature on the card at UFC 243 in Melbourne in early October alongside City Kickboxing teammates Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker, and fellow Kiwi Luke Jumeau.
"A lot of guys are booked, they've got fights coming up, so I'm pretty limited on who I can fight in the top 10," he said.
"Alexandre Pantoja is coming off a loss; we fought in the Ultimate Fighter so we could run that back in Melbourne in five weeks. That sounds pretty good to me."
If he can't get onto the Melbourne card, Kara-France said Singapore on October 26 would be an option, as would fighting at UFC 245 in Las Vegas in December on a card which was expected to be headlined by City Kickboxing teammate Alexander Volkanovski as he challenges Max Holloway for the featherweight title, though the UFC have not yet confirmed that bout.
"If I don't get on the Melbourne card, then maybe I just wait it out until December.
"That would be a dream come true to fight in Vegas, it would be my first time fighting in America. So maybe there against Alexandre Pantoja sounds like the go-to fight."
Pantoja beat Kara-France by unanimous decision when the two squared off in the Ultimate Fighter, but is coming of a tough loss against Deiveson Figueiredo in a bout that earned each fighter a US$50,000 performance bonus.
Should Pantoja (No 4 ranked) not take the fight, or be booked for another, Matt Schnell (9) and Rogerio Bontorin (7) could be among the available options. Kara-France said he was more than willing to take on anyone inside the division's top 10 as he looks to work his way up toward a title challenge.
"I'm in the UFC now and I'm a contender. (I'm on an) eight-fight win steak, three in a row in the UFC so the world is my oyster and I'm only getting better."