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UFC Fight Night: Gane v Tuivasa Predictions 

The fighting pride of France Ciryl Gane will be determined to seize the day when he headlines the first-ever UFC event in his home country against Tai Tuivasa in a high-stakes heavyweight showdown in Paris on Saturday night.

UFC Paris Betting Predictions

The fighting pride of France Ciryl Gane will be determined to seize the day when he headlines the first-ever UFC event in his home country against Tai Tuivasa in a high-stakes heavyweight showdown in Paris on Saturday night, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

The two top middleweight contenders in the world collide in the co-main event at Accor Arena as former champion Robert Whittaker meets ex-title challenger Marvin Vettori, while the featured bout is also at 185 pounds with Alessio Di Chirico matched up against Roman Kopylov. 

The featherweight division is also in focus as the lethal pair of Charles Jourdain and Nathaniel Wood open the main card and hot prospects William Gomis and Jarno Errens make their promotional debuts, plus John Makdessi and Nasrat Haqparast square off in a lightweight scrap. 

MAIN CARD (from 9 PM Saturday SA time):

Ciryl Gane (1.17) v Tai Tuivasa (4.85) (Heavyweight)

The Octagon touches down in France for the first time with a main event befitting the occasion as local favourite and No 1-ranked Gane goes up against rising third-ranked Tuivasa.

Gane started the year as the interim champion with a perfect 10-0 record but fell to former teammate Francis Ngannou in their title unification bout in January. Half of his wins have come in the UFC including a TKO victory against Derrick Lewis that earned him the interim title.

Tuivasa has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround, going from being on the chopping block after losing three in a row to rattling off five straight knockouts to possibly put himself one win away from a title shot. Most recently, “Bam Bam” battled through early adversary and returned fire to finish Lewis in the second round of their slugfest in February. 

This, too, will be a stand-up battle, but it won’t be a slugfest as Gane is an emotionless kickboxing savant whose sharp striking, patience, discipline and tactical precision see him operate more like a machine than a man. Adding to his cyborg-like aura is the fact that there’s never been a heavyweight that moves like him. 

“Bon Gamin” is as fast as a welterweight, light on his feet, ever-moving and seemingly never-tiring, having shown he’s as fresh in the last round as he is in the first in his five-round decision wins over Jair Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov. 

His fight IQ is off the charts as well. He constantly downloads data on his opponent, working out his movement and timing to determine the exact range to work and set traps from. The four KOs on his record are evidence that he’s an overwhelmer as opposed to a knockout artist, which makes him a puzzle no one has been able to solve on the feet. 

Ngannou was able to hand him his first loss by surprising all with a never-seen-before grappling game and with Tuivasa being a brawler, Gane won’t have to fret takedowns. In fact, Gane’s the better grappler, boasting three submission wins including tapping Don’tale Mayes with a heel hook. 

Tuivasa’s a throwback to the early days of the UFC. Whereas Gane’s a muscle-bound specimen who takes a scientific approach to everything he does, the Australian has the everyman big boy build and drinks beer out of strangers’ shoes to celebrate switching foes’ lights off.

He’s a banger and his record of 14-3 – with all but one of his wins coming by knockout – shows that it works for him more often than not. However, he’s never fought anyone like the French anomaly. Being heavyweight fighting, one clean punch could be all it takes for Tuivasa to spoil Gane’s Paris party, however, more decorated and technical strikers have tried and failed at every turn.

Tuivasa’s only gone to a decision twice, the last in a loss to Blagoy Ivanov in 2019, and those were three-round fights. 

Gane’s a cardio machine and in a five-round main event bout, that’s worth even more than his superior skillset and massive six-inch reach advantage. 

Tuivasa won’t be able to keep up with the pace Gane pushes, which will see the local hero get a TKO finish in the second half of the headliner to send the fans home happy. 

Prediction: Gane via TKO.

Best Bet: Gane by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.20.

Alternative Bet: Over 2.5 rounds at 1.78.

Robert Whittaker (1.44) v Marvin Vettori (2.75) (Middleweight)

The two best middleweights in the world not named Israel Adesanya meet in the co-main event. They find themselves in a strange position as they top the rankings, yet, they’ve both lost to the champion twice. 

Those were their only defeats in close to a decade, No.1-ranked Whittaker (24-6) having beaten all other comers since 2014 and No.2-ranked Vettori (18-5-1) doing the same since 2017.

In a sense, that makes this fight one neither man can afford to lose more so than the winner earning another title shot. On the other hand, if “The Last Stylebender” gets dethroned by former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira at UFC 281 in November, the winner of this one could potentially get the first crack at the new king. 

Whittaker (24-6) has had nothing but high-stakes bouts like these since his title triumph against Yoel Romero in 2017. 

The UFC’s first-ever Australian-born champion is a dangerous all-around threat with nine knockouts and five submissions to his name. 

It’s his brilliant mind as much as his crisp striking, fleet footwork, legendary takedown defence and durability that makes him an all but unbeatable problem for fellow contenders. “The Reaper” is a true cerebral assassin and his experience as a former titleholder further helps him outwit those wishing to take his spot. 

His last five wins have all come on the scorecards and he returns for the first time since his decision loss to Adesanya in their rematch in February. 

Vettori is a stockier tank of a middleweight. He went the distance in both of his failed attempts to unseat Adesanya, which reiterated that he can handle himself on the feet but at the same time, isn’t a threat in the striking department, with just two career knockouts.

“The Italian Dream” is a tireless grinder who looks to overwhelm opponents with relentless grappling and constant pressure. He used this suffocating style to bounce back from his second loss to Adesanya with a decision win over another former title challenger in Paulo Costa last November. Nine of his wins have come by submission, but tapping out Whittaker is a long shot. 

Whittaker has the conditioning and takedown defence to keep the fight standing. Faster and more agile with a higher fight IQ and faster hands, he should be one step ahead of the more robust and rigid Vettori and pick up the win by decision. 

Prediction: Whittaker via decision.

Best Bet: Whittaker at 1.44.

Alternative Bet: Whittaker by decision at 1.86.

Alessio Di Chirico (1.95) v Roman Kopylov (1.86) (Middleweight)

A donnybrook between desperados. Di Chirico (13-6) has lost four of his last five while Kopylov (8-2) is yet to taste victory in the UFC ahead of this, his third trip to the Octagon.

It’s a pick ‘em and should be a hard-fought contest. However, Di Chirico is the more complete and experienced fighter. The Italian’s a threat on the feet (six knockouts) and the ground (four submissions) and although he won’t be satisfied with his 4-6 record in the UFC, he has scored some impressive wins and has never been outclassed.

Kopylov, on the other hand, is more limited in that he’s a striking specialist. That seven of his eight wins are by knockout sounds impressive, but those were all on the regional scene. 

Based on his emphatic losses inside the Octagon – one by knockout and the other by unanimous decision after being controlled – there’s little to suggest the Russian will get off the mark. 

Instead, Di Chirico should outpoint and send him packing. 

Prediction: Di Chirico via decision.

Best Bet: Di Chirico at 1.95.

Alternative Bet: Di Chirico by decision at 3.25. 

John Makdessi (2.90) v Nasrat Haqparast (1.40) (Lightweight)

A grizzled gamer, Makdessi (18-7) has won four of his last five. It’s been over a year since his split decision victory over Ignacio Bahamondes, though, and he faces a highly talented and hungry opponent who’s his junior by a full decade. 

Haqparast (13-5) sought to break into the upper echelon of the division in his last two fights but had his rise stalled by decision losses to Dan Hooker and Bobby Green. This is a far more favourable match-up for the 27-year-old, one that tees him up to return to winning ways.  

Expect a stand-up battle between contrasting strikers with nine knockouts each. Haqparast’s a southpaw who’s set to have a speed advantage and does great work in the clinch, while Makdessi is more technical as a taekwondo and Shotokan karate black belt out of the orthodox stance.

The timing of this tilt heavily favours the younger Haqparast and should see him outwork the veteran as the fight progresses to pull away on the scorecards. 

Prediction: Haqparast via decision.

Best Bet: Haqparast at 1.40. 

Alternative Bet: Haqparast by decision at 2.20.

William Gomis (1.43) v Jarno Errens (2.80) (Featherweight)

Both men will be looking to put themselves on the map in this late-notice clash of newcomers. Gomis (10-2) will have his home crowd behind him, massive momentum on his side in the form of an eight-fight win streak and a slight size advantage.

Errens (13-3-1) is mainly a grappler (five submissions) who’s gone 2-1-1 in his last five and will need to pin his French foe to the mat if he’s to play spoiler. 

As the far superior striker, “Jaguar” will likely stay on the outside and chip away at Errens initially, stuff a few expected takedown attempts and notch career knockout number seven to signal his arrival in the UFC in style. 

Prediction: Gomis via knockout.

Best Bet: Gomis at 1.43.

Alternative Bet: Gomis by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.40.

Charles Jourdain (1.68) v Nathaniel Wood (2.15) (Featherweight)

The main card opener is also my pick to play out as Fight of the Night as it promises to be an all-action affair. Both men are ultra-aggressive, fearless, in constant motion and always throwing one attack or another. 

While both are well-rounded, Jourdain (13-5-1) is more of a brawler who thrives in wars and with a 91% finish rate (eight knockouts and four submissions), he’s usually the last man standing in such scenarios. 

Wood (18-5) is not quite as prolific a predator as “Air” but still boasts 14 stoppages. It’s not the nine knockouts but rather the five submissions on his record that should grab your attention in this match-up as it’s on the ground where he should have a decisive edge.

“The Prospect” looked reborn in his impressive featherweight debut in July and the Brit has the fight IQ not to get sucked into a slugfest along with the grappling prowess to make it two from two in his new weight class and hit huge at 9.00 by submission.

Prediction: Wood via submission. 

Best Bet: Wood by submission at 9.00.

Alternative Bet: Wood at 2.15.

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at SARugby.com and senior staff writer at Rugby365.com, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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