As expected, the crowds turned up at the UFC’s first trip to France for UFC Paris.
Of course, it was the French UFC fighters that grabbed the biggest crowd reactions. It helped that all of them were spectacular with Benoit Saint-Denis, Fares Ziam, William Gomis, Nassourdine Imavov and Ciryl Gane all grabbing wins.
We saw another masterclass from Robert Whittaker in the co-main as well as one of the best debuts in UFC history from Abus Magomedov. All of the fights from UFC Paris are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.
UFC Paris Prelim. Action
Stephanie Egger def. Ailin Perez by Submission in the 2nd Round
Not wasting any time in her UFC debut, Perez came in hard, trying to take Egger down. Sadly for her, that was a mistake against the professional judo practitioner. Egger used her strength and technique to reverse the takedown and end up on top. From there, Egger was in dominant control, smothering Perez. After a couple minutes of getting smothered, Perez managed to get up and grab a takedown of her own. That didn’t last long though as Egger got back up herself and grabbed another takedown. The final 30 seconds of the round were spent with both fighters on their feet when Perez landed a HUGE spinning backfist. It was a good moment for her, but Egger was clearly up 1-0.
Perez tried to get her striking going right away in the second, but was quickly shut down by Egger. Egger went for a quick submission, but was reversed by Perez who was still trying to make some big moves. Once again though, Egger used her judo skills to get back the dominant position. With 30 seconds left in the round, Egger was fighting for submission. As time was running off the clock, it looked like we were going to see the final round, but then Egger slipped her arm under Perez’s chin and grabbed the 2nd Round finish.
Cristian Quiñonez def. Khalid Taha by TKO in the 1st Round
Quinonez was trying to keep Taha at a distance early, using his jabs and kicks to avoid the huge power coming back at him. He was doing a great job of avoiding most of the offence, but every time Taha managed to land, it was a significant. Quiñonez then landed a BOMB that dropped Taha to his knees. From there, he swarmed Taha with ground and pound and the ref quickly stopped it. Honestly, this seemed like a pretty clear early stoppage, but he definitely wasn’t in the best position.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1
Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Gabriel Miranda
This one looked like one of those matchups you give to the hometown hero when you want them to win. Saint-Denis is in his home country of France against a debuting UFC fighter who hasn’t really fought the toughest competition. With Saint-Denis’ aggressive and dangerous style, an early finish seemed inevitable.
Saint-Denis by Finish
After coming out to THUNDEROUS cheers from the French crowd, Saint-Denis came in and landed a HUGE body kick right away. Miranda wanted no part of that and tried to drag Saint-Denis down. Knowing he had a clear advantage on the feet, Saint-Denis kept getting back to his feet and landing HUGE shots and combos on Miranda. Miranda landed a couple of goods ones as well, but he clearly wanted to bring the fight down to the canvas.
After the referee brought him back to his feet, Miranda was quickly dropped again and had Saint-Denis raining down heavy shots, gunning for a finish. By some miracle, Miranda made it to the bell after getting BRUTALLY dropped multiple times. However, he looked very roughed up. Saint-Denis kept the pressure going right away in the 2nd Round and grabbed a quick TKO finish.
Benoit Saint-Denis def. Gabriel Miranda by TKO in the 2nd Round
Fares Ziam def. Michal Figlak by Unanimous Decision
Figlak clearly wanted to be the pressure UFC fighter, walking Ziam down right away, landing some pretty heavy combos. Ziam was doing fairly well to avoid most of the bigger shots and landing counters, but Figlak was clearly doing more damage early. After feeling a couple of shots from Ziam, Figlak clinched up for a takedown, but was actually reversed by Ziam. Figlak got back up pretty quick though, moving back to his pressure striking. He then moved back into the clinch along the fence, where they seemed to be pretty equal. It was looking like a dead even round, but with a late takedown from Ziam, he may have clinched the round. To close out the round, Figlak made it interesting with a pretty slick armbar attempt.
Not wanting to lose another round, Figlak came in hard once again. Ziam responded to that pressure with another clinch, leading to him finding the dominant position on top of Figlak. Figlak did well to get back up, but really needed to make a statement to get back up on the judges’ cards. Ziam then started to get the upper hand, dropping Figlak and slamming him with some ground and pound. With another clear round on the cards, Ziam was probably up 2-0.
Figlak was still fighting back though, pushing hard in the final round. He was doing well and pushing the pace, but he clearly needed a finish. Sadly for him, Ziam managed to grab another takedown, trying to run out the clock. Then Ziam made a HORRIBLE mistake, letting Figlak take the dominant position. Amazingly, he quickly recovered and rode out the clock for a dominant decision win. The judges agreed, scoring it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Ziam.
BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2
Nasrat Haqparast vs. John Makdessi
With an age gap of 10 years, this matchup already favours the younger man, Haqparast. Not only that, he’s also been fighting the much higher level of UFC competition lately with Hooker and Bobby Green. It seemed like it’d be close, but I went with a decision win for the younger fighter.
Haqparast by Decision
The fight started off fairly slow with minimal offence from either side, but Haqparast had a clear speed advantage early. There weren’t too many big shots being thrown; Haqparast was the one landing his offence with some quick, tight combos. That being said, Makdessi was the one walking forward and throwing out kicks. The opening round was dead even and the judges could have gone either way. I’d have probably gone with Haqparast thanks to his more noticeable offence.
Haqparast seemed to turn up the pace in the 2nd Round, landing some heavier combos, splitting Makdessi open. The damaged eye was starting to be a problem for Makdessi, allowing Haqparast to really turn up the intensity with his striking. Then, Makdessi was dropped to his knees and fell straight into the fence. That was out of nowhere, it was a shot you couldn’t really see. With all that offence and that huge moment, it was clear that Haqparast had won the 2nd Round.
Makdessi came in hard the final round, trying to get back into the fight. Haqparast wasn’t slowing down though, still landing some crisp combos. You could tell Makdessi was pushing hard, he never stopped walking forward and kept trying to counter his opponent’s combos. After getting walked backwards for a few minutes straight, Haqparast grabbed a beautiful takedown. Makdessi got back up, but was thrown back down again. It was a tight enough round that those two takedowns could have snagged the win on the cards. In the end, the judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Haqparast.
Nasrat Haqparast def. John Makdessi by Unanimous Decision
Abus Magomedov def. Dustin Stoltzfus by TKO in the 1st Round
Magomedov didn’t take long to make a statement, SLAMMING a front kick to the face of Stoltzfus that had him backed up into the fence. From there, he lit Stoltzfus up with a HUGE combo, dropping on his back for an incredible 1st Round finish. It was so fast that he grabbed the 4th fastest finish by a debuting fighter.
UFC Paris Main Card Action
Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood
Wood has done well at bantamweight and had a decent showing in his UFC debut in the featherweight division, but Jourdain has been in some WARS. Most notable out of his recent matchups, Jourdain just came off of an incredible performance against the always dangerous, former UFC top contender Shane Burgos. With a majority decision loss to Burgos, a massive featherweight, it seemed like Jourdain was going to steamroll Wood in a dominant decision.
Jourdain by Decision
Jourdain opened up with a HUGE shot to the chin of Wood that had him a bit stumbled, but Wood wasn’t phased. After a couple of decent exchanges on the feet, Wood caught Jourdain off guard and tripped him to get in dominant position on the canvas. Jourdain was doing well to shut down all the offence and ended up getting back up. From there, Jourdain started to get back into his groove, landing some crisp combos. Wood had him wobbled with a big strike though, making this fight just as interesting as we thought. It was quite the round with some fantastic moments from both fighters, but it seemed clear that Wood won the 1st Round on the cards.
The 2nd Round opened with some more tight boxing from both men. Both men were doing well, but Jourdain found himself on the ground briefly. Jourdain was landing some nice combos here and there, but then Wood would counter with a HUGE shot each time. He then managed to drop Jourdain again and smother him with grappling. Wood never really got any offence going on the ground though, leading to the ref standing them back up. The pressure of Wood was constant, but that never slowed Jourdain down. It was another close round, but I’d have given Wood the 2nd Round as well, giving him a 2-0 lead.
In classic Jourdain style, he didn’t slow down in the third. He was pressuring Wood even harder than before, but that led to another couple of trips from Wood. Wood never really did anything all that significant on the ground, but it was effective in running out the clock and winning on the cards. With that impressive showing, it seemed pretty clear that Wood had won on the cards. The judges agreed, scoring it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for a VERY impressive Nathaniel Wood.
Nathaniel Wood def. Charles Jourdain by Unanimous Decision
William Gomis vs. Jarno Errens
With two debuting UFC fighters, anything was possible in this matchup. That being said, I had to side with the man fighting in his native country, Gomis. Not only was he making his debut in his home country, he’s also grabbed finishes up a division and has fought the tougher competition. For those reasons, it seemed like Gomis was going to grab a statement finish in his UFC debut.
Gomis by Finish
Errens was the one walking forward early, but Gomis was throwing out some feints that slowed him down. Although he was getting backed up, Gomis was doing well with his kicks, keeping Errens from rushing in with a combo. In between kicks, Errens went in for a clinch. He was looking for a takedown, but Gomis was the one who ended up on top. Interestingly, he wasn’t really doing a whole lot, mostly just holding Errens down for a couple minutes. With that though, Gomis was clearly up 1-0.
Gomis opened up with a couple crisp combos, but was still getting backed up by the pressure of Errens. Then it was Errens that landed his first big shot of the night, wobbling Gomis. Not wanting to risk any more damage, Gomis dragged Errens down to the canvas. This time he managed to do a bit of damage with ground and pound. It took a couple minutes but Errens got back up and started his pressure striking once again. Gomis responded with another takedown, but this time Errens managed to defend, resulting in a couple of very interesting grappling exchanges. Once again, it seemed as though Gomis was up on the cards.
Both men gave everything at the start of the final round, throwing out WILD combos. This time it looked as though it might have been Errens leading the exchanges. Just like the other rounds though, Gomis responded with a takedown. He was never close to any kind of finish, but the control time was stacking up. Just as it looked like Gomis was going to cruise to a win, Errens locked in a NASTY submission, really threatening a finish. Gomis was stuck in there BAD for about 30 seconds, but eventually got out, likely still winning on the cards. The judges agreed, giving the Frenchman the win, 29-28, 29-28 and a RARE 29-29 for Gomis.
William Gomis def. Jarno Errens by Majority Decision
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Roman Kopylov
With two fighters on the brink of getting cut from the UFC, anything could have happened here. The safer bet here seemed to be Di Chirico. He’s got a few wins in the UFC, he’s grabbed a couple of 1st Round finishes and he had a decent Italian crowd behind him (that was there for Vettori). Thanks to those small factors, I picked a finish for Di Chirico.
Di Chirico by Finish
Di Chirico opened with some big strikes early, but Kopylov was throwing out some jabs that were really slowing him down. The rest of the round was dead-even with both men throwing out the occasional big strike or combo. In the last minute, Kopylov landed a couple of big strikes that may have clinched the round, but it could have gone either way.
Once again, Di Chirico came in hard with a wild combo, but missed, going back to the same back and forth exchanges as the first. Di Chirico shot in for a takedown but was shut down. This led to some heated striking exchanges between both men where Kopylov seemed to get hit a bit harder.
Di Chirico then decided to switch it up, going for some clinchwork along the fence. He didn’t get the takedown, but after that he really started to pressure forward against Kopylov. With all that extra output in the second from Di Chirico, it seemed as though the score was tied 1-1.
Once again, Di Chirico opened hard, landing a pretty heavy combo that backed Kopylov up. From there, they went back to their dead-even exchanges.. but it switched as Kopylov landed the best combo of the night. He had Di Chirico backed up into the fence and ended it with a flurry, grabbing his win from the jaws of defeat.
Roman Kopylov def. Alessio Di Chirico by TKO in the 3rd Round
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Joaquin Buckley
They seemed to both have a chance at a finish in this matchup, but Imavov has been fighting better against the tougher competition. With wins over formerly ranked UFC contenders Ian Heinisch and Shahbazyan in his last two fights, it seemed like Imavov was going to grab another finish.
Imavov by Finish
Buckley ran in QUICK, throwing out some wild strikes, but Imavov avoided it all and followed it up by walking Buckley down. These two were explosive with everything they were doing, clearly carrying their online beef into the cage. Imavov kept walking Buckley down, landing combos and pushing him back into the fence. Buckley was getting the occasional shot in, but Imavov was relentless. After a wayward takedown from Buckley, Imavov reversed him and ended on top, raining down heavy shots.
Buckley landed a couple of decent shots to open the 2nd round, but Imavov was still relentless with his pressure. Buckley was trying hard to land combos but was really struggling with the impressive movement of Imavov. Finally, the fight moved to the canvas. Imavov was on top, landing some heavy combos, but then took Buckley’s back and locked in a great submission attempt.
Instead of playing around on the feet; Imavov went back to grappling where he dragged Buckley down. He got back up quick though and really started to throw everything into his striking. This pressure and pace actually started to wear on Imavov as he started to slow down quite a bit. The rest of this fight was an all-out brawl from both guys, solidifying this one as the best fight of the night up until that point. Buckley put up quite the fight, but Imavov clearly took the decision win. The judges agreed, scoring it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Imavov.
Nassourdine Imavov def. Joaquin Buckley by Unanimous Decision
UFC Paris Co-Main Event
Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori
Avid UFC fans knew what to expect with this matchup: a fairly dominant decision win for Whittaker. Vettori is very talented, but he’s just not as skilled or as smart as the former champ. This was made clear in their title fights against Adesanya. While Whittaker had convinced some people he had taken the belt back from Izzy, Vettori hadn’t even come close. This seemed like it was inevitably going to end in a decision win for Whittaker.
Whittaker by Decision
Neither man wanted to waste any time, both throwing out some early offence. Vettori was the one pressuring forward, but Whittaker was avoiding almost all of the offence coming at him. Not only was he fairly elusive, he was also landing some decent counters. Vettori went for a takedown, but he was quickly shot down. With a lot of back-and-forth striking, it wasn’t clear who had taken the opening round on the cards.
The 2nd Round continued to be just as even. As the round went on though, Whittaker started to land some much heavier shots, possibly even wobbling Vettori at some points. He started to back Vettori up into the fence, lighting him up with some quick, crisp shots. After two, Whittaker had either tied it up or moved to a 2-0 lead.
Vettori turned the dial up to 11 in the final round, really pushing the pace and backing Whittaker up. After around a minute though, Vettori slowed down and was BLASTED by a HUGE shot that wobbled him. Whittaker kept that up, damaging Vettori with some more big shots. Whittaker was really using his kicks to keep Vettori back and then he’d jump in with a beautiful shot. Vettori tried to mix it up with a takedown, but was once again easily shut down. Then, to really put a stamp on the fight, Whittaker grabbed a HUGE takedown himself. He didn’t do a lot with it, but it certainly made a statement.
After those last two rounds, it was clear that, as expected, Whittaker ran away with a dominant decision win. The judges, once again, agreed, scoring it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Whittaker.
Robert Whittaker def. Marvin Vettori by Unanimous Decision
UFC Paris Main Event
Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa
The odds spoke for themselves in this matchup. Gane was a huge favourite in his hometown, fresh off of a razor-thin title loss against N’Gannou. Tuivasa always has the power to end the fight. However, Gane is smart, quick and too smart to go down easily. Considering Gane has multiple finishes over tougher UFC opponents, it seemed like Gane was going to grab a spectacular finish and level the entire arena.
Gane by Finish
As expected, Gane was elusive early. He was staying at a distance and throwing out some kicks. Tuivasa was landing some kicks of his own, but couldn’t quite get close enough to throw anything else. As the round went on, Tuivasa managed to sneak in a couple of quick shots, but Gane was still continuing his classic strategy. Then Tuivasa started to slow his activity a bit, allowing Gane to throw out HUGE shots including some nasty body kicks and head kicks. It was a tight opening round, but you’d have to give it to Gane thanks to his accuracy and the couple of big shots he managed to land.
Both men continued their pace in the second with both guys throwing out some combos and a lot of kicks. Once again, it was still Gane edging ahead in activity with his crisp jabs and heavy kicks. Tuivasa was doing well to push Gane back with pressure though and ended up dropping him with a BOMB. Amazingly, Gane recovered, got back up and started letting loose some WILD offence. He ended up cracking Tuivasa with these HUGE body shots that had Tuivasa keeled over backing up. Tuivasa over came that though and started to let loose some WILD shots, backing Gane up. Then the tides shifted again as Gane landed a couple more shots to close out the round.
They were a little cautious to start the 3rd Round, but Gane was clearly the fresher man coming in. Game started to really throw HARD to the body. Gane started to turn up the pressure, really taking the offence to Tai. Then, it looked like Tuivasa was going to lose. However, he rallied back, trying to catch Gane as he was coming in. After a while, those body shots really started to add up, clearly hurting Tuivasa bad. Gane kept that pressure up, absolutely relentless with his combos. Tuivasa looked hurt and was Gane finished him off. The crowd went absolutely INSANE as Gane grabbed the 3rd Round finish, solidifying himself as one of the best heavyweights in UFC and in combat sports history.
Ciryl Gane def. Tai Tuivasa by KO in the 3rd Round
BLÜ’s Record for the Night
Main Card: 4-2
Di Chirico (L)
KO of the Night: Abus Magomedov
Sub. of the Night: Stephanie Egger
Brawl of the Night: Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa
Most Valuable Fighter
He headlined the first UFC event in France. He made the arena go wild. Gane got knocked down. However, he managed to come back grabbed a 3rd Round finish. I’ve said this before, I truly believe Gane will be the undisputed champ at some point and be one of the best champions we’ve ever seen.