After a week away from action, the UFC will make its long-awaited first appearance in Paris, France!
In the main event, Ciryl Gane looks to return to his winning ways at the expense of hard-hitting fan favorite Tai Tuivasa. The co-main features top-five Middleweights looking to make a case for trilogy title bouts, as Robert Whittaker faces off with Marvin Vettori.
Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa (HW)
Ciryl Gane (10-1, 7-1 UFC) came to the UFC at just 3-0 with an extensive background in kickboxing and Muay Thai. He rattled off six straight wins including three stoppages in under two years to earn himself an interim title shot. He scored another TKO over Derrick Lewis, but suffered a decision defeat to Francis Ngannou in his attempt to regain the title. “Bon Gamin” has incredibly high level striking, with a masterful use of range. He mixes up his attack well, utilizing kicks and knees while repeatedly going to the body. Gane is no slouch on the mat either, with three submission wins and well-timed reversals, though he can be secured on his back. Key weapons in Gane’s arsenal are his speed and fight IQ, along with his evasive footwork.
Three straight losses left Tai Tuivasa (15-3, 8-3 UFC) with his back to the wall. He now finds himself on a five-fight win streak with each of those wins coming by way of knockout. “Bam Bam” is a brawler by trade, looking to explode in the pocket with fast hands. He utilizes good clinch work with powerful elbows, as evidenced in his last outing opposite Derrick Lewis. Tuivasa sports impressive speed for a Heavyweight and has finished all but one of his pro wins by knockout. He can be overwhelmed on the mat, without much offense off his back or avenues back to his feet. While Tuivasa does absorb his fair share of damage on the feet, he has the one-shot power to change the fight in an instant.
The odds have Ciryl Gane firmly entrenched as a massive favorite, and I can’t say that I disagree. Gane has massive advantages in nearly every aspect of this bout, even on the feet where Tuivasa finds his most success. His footwork and range management will give Tai fits, who relies on bursts within the pocket and wild brawls. Tuivasa’s main advantage comes from his pure power, with a KO shot a potential at any moment. However, the length and range of Gane will keep Tuivasa from haymaker range, with a much superior strike diversity, particularly in his kicking attack. I also expect Gane to have a massive grappling advantage. Tuivasa has shown massive holes in both his takedown and submission defense, and I expect Gane to exploit that, as it is his easiest path to victory. Expect Gane to land pot shots at range before dragging Tuivasa to the mat and closing the show.
My Pick: Ciryl Gane via Submission
Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori (MW)
Robert Whittaker (23-6, 14-4 UFC) picked up three straight decision victories to earn a rematch at the man who took his title. Though he lost a split decision to Israel Adesanya this past February, Whittaker showed he is still one of the best in the division. “The Reaper” has masterful striking, utilizing a karate-like stance. He bounces in and out of range, chopping his opponent down with oblique kicks and well-timed body shots. The jab and quick combos of Whittaker are always on display, working well at range or in the pocket. Whittaker sports a high level wrestling background, though he primarily uses it to keep the fight standing with expert takedown defense. Eleven of his sixteen stoppages have come by knockout, though he has not finished a fight in over five years.
A five-fight win streak brought Marvin Vettori (18-4-1, 8-3-1 UFC) into a rematch with Israel Adesanya, though he lost a unanimous decision. He rebounded with a decision over Paulo Costa, but has not graced the Octagon in nearly eleven months. Vettori brings a relentless pace into the Octagon, with pressure-based striking and a heavy grappling attack. He has excellent op control on the mat, along with good takedown entries and clinch control. On the feet, his pressure attack can be plodding at times, though his durability is never in question. Vettori is more than happy to take a punch in order to land his own or try to bring the fight to the mat. “The Italian Dream” has secured eleven pro stoppages, with nine by submission.
This fight is certainly worthy of the main event slotting, but we are in for a real treat with this inaugural Paris card. Robert Whittaker has been firmly planted at the top of the Middleweight division with just Adesanya sitting ahead of him in the rankings. Whittaker’s high level striking is always on display, and his stiff jab and quick combos look set to tee off on Vettori’s hard-nosed pressure. Vettori’s best path to victory lies on the mat, where he can sexure control time and rack up damage with his superior grappling. However, I see the wrestling of Whittaker holding the advantage, keeping the fight at kickboxing range. Expect Whittaker to have a field day on the plodding footwork of Vettori, with only Vettori’s trademark durability taking him to the scorecards.
My Pick: Robert Whittaker via Decision
Alessio di Chirico vs. Roman Kopylov (MW)
After a 3-2 start to his UFC career, Alessio di Chirico (13-6, 4-6 UFC) now finds himself with just one win in his last five bouts. His most recent appearance saw him knocked out in seventeen seconds by Abdul Razak Alhassen after scoring his own head kick KO over Joaquin Buckley seven months earlier. He is a jack of all trades, with a competent top game and good striking technique, but is consistently outmaneuvered by specialists. Roman Kopylov (8-2, 0-2 UFC) is still looking for his first UFC win, most recently dropped a decision to Albert Duraev. Kopylov came up through the respected Fight Nights Global promotion against solid regional opposition scoring all but one of his victories by knockout. His boxing technique is his best weapon, along with defensive wrestling in his back pocket. This should play out entirely on the feet, as Kopylov holds the wrestling advantage to keep Di Chirico’s grappling from coming into play. On the feet, Kopylov has better boxing speed and technique, not to mention Di Chirico is coming off a rough knockout loss. I expect Kopylov to pick Di Chirico apart for a late stoppage or decision win.
My Pick: Roman Kopylov via Knockout
Nasrat Haqparast vs. John Makdessi (LW)
Nasrat Haqparast (13-5, 5-4 UFC) started amassing solid hype after a knockout over Joaquim Silva put him on a three-fight UFC win streak. He is 2-3 in his last five, however, dropping consecutive decisions to Dan Hooker and Bobby Green in his last two appearances. Haqparast is a technical striker, with nice range management and heavy hands. He keeps a high volume and offers stout takedown defense, though his love for trading in the pocket can overexpose him. A UFC veteran since 2010, John Makdessi (18-7, 11-7 UFC) has proved he is still all action at 37, last seen claiming a decision win over Ignacio Bahamondes. “The Bull” has an aggressive striking attack with no shortage of pressure or spinning attacks. While he does not offer much ground offense, he holds superb takedown defense. We look poised for a brawl in this matchup, with both fighters consistently offering high output and not the best striking defense. I see this bout as significantly closer than the odds have it with Haqparast as a -230 favorite at time of writing. Haqparast does hold advantages in technique and power, but the combos and quick counters of Makdessi should make this a dog fight. I find myself going back and forth on my prediction for this bout, but I’ll side with the pressure and volume of Makdessi to snag a razor-thin decision.
My Pick: John Makdessi via Decision
William Gomis vs. Jarno Errens (FTW)
Two European fighters will make their UFC debut here. William Gomis (10-2) is riding an eight-fight win streak since a loss to Morgan Charriere, claiming victories in promotions like Cage Warriors, UAE Warriors, and Ares FC. His top control is most impressive, mixing in wrestling entries beautifully with his crisp striking fundamentals. Jarno Errens (13-3-1) cut his teeth in the EFC before claiming a decision win in Brave CF to get the call up here. He is well-rounded, with a slick grappling threat from all positions. His striking is efficient, though Errens can be sloppy at times. I expect Errens to try to get this fight to the mat, as he will be seriously outgunned on the feet by Gomis. The Frenchman’s takedown defense and own wrestling threat outshine Errens, despite him being the better submission artist. So long as Gomis does not come out gun-shy, I see him picking apart Errens for a clear decision.
My Pick: William Gomis via Decision
Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood (FTW)
We have a banger opening up our main card between two savages just outside the Featherweight rankings. Charles Jourdain has proved himself must-see TV in every outing, with highlight reel stoppages over Doo Ho Choi and Lando Vannata, along with absolute wars against Shane Burgos and Marcelo Rojo. Nathaniel Wood came into the UFC as a hyped prospect out of the Cage Warriors promotion, going 4-2 in his first six UFC bouts. After nearly two years away, he returned in July to claim a decision win over Charles Rosa. We are in for a war on the feet, as Jourdain’s pace and power advantages match up tightly with Wood’s superior technique and consistent volume. I see the neutralizing factor being Wood’s wrestling, as he has the takedown entries and composed top control to rack up control time against Jourdain’s so-so takedown defense. I expect wild striking exchanges interrupted by stints of control time from Wood to get him the judges’ nod.
My Pick: Nathaniel Wood via Decision
This fight card kicks off early, with the action getting going at 12 PM EST!
Categories: UFC Predictions