Heavyweights are set to collide in UFC’s premiere event France on Saturday. French native Ciryl Gane is set to take on fan-favorite Tai Tuivasa in the main event from the Accor Arena with a potential title shot on the line.
Gane (10-1) fell one round short of dethroning UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou at UFC 270. A major tactical error in Round 5 arguably cost him the world title. Gane, 32, is only four years into his mixed martial arts journey but has developed a well-rounded game as evidenced by a nearly even split of KO, submission and decision wins. Defensively, Gane is an evasive fighter who has never been stopped. A strong performance against Tuivasa assures that Gane’s name remains on the tip of tongues in title conversations.
“He’s really dangerous, and everybody knows this,” Gane told reporters at Thursday’s media day. “And he proved it. He’s on a good run. He finished every opponent. He’s really dangerous in his striking, so I must be focused… ‘Bon Gamin’ style: the footwork, manage distance, touch and never get touched. That’s it.
“I want to put more volume than usual. So I want to stop the fight before the end because we will probably be really tired together, both, and I expect this kind of fight.”
Tuivasa (14-3) has established himself as one of UFC’s most marketable fighters. His gift for drinking beers out of strangers’ shoes, affectionally labelled a “shoey,” has endeared him to the masses. The gimmick sometimes overshadows Tuivasa’s natural charisma and a nasty habit of knocking out opponents. Tuivasa showed great resolve in turning around a disappointing three-fight losing streak to notch five straight knockouts. He emerged as a potential title challenger with a second-round KO of Derrick Lewis in February. Tuivasa has knocked out all but one of his 14 victims in under seven minutes.
“Ciryl’s a champion,” Tuivasa said. “He’s won the [interim] belt. He’s one of the best of the best. I’ve fought a couple of champions now, and he’s up there with the best for sure. He would probably be one of the most elusive, maybe, fighters with his speed and his movement. But if I dink him, I sink him.”
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Saturday’s co-main event could be a Fight Night headliner in its own right. Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker faces former title challenger Marvin Vettori. Both men have lost twice to reigning champion Israel Adesanya but have a lot to fight for. Even if a trilogy fight against Israel Adesanya is distant, the winner of Whittaker vs. Vettori will be on the shortlist for a title shot should Pereira dethrone Adesanya at UFC 281 in November.
Here’s the fight card for UFC Fight Night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Ciryl Gane -575||Tai Tuivasa +425||Heavyweight|
|Robert Whittaker -230||Marvin Vettori +190||Middleweight|
|Alessio Di Chirico -110||Roman Kopylov -110||Middleweight|
|Nasrat Haqparast -230||John Makdessi +190||Lightweight|
|William Gomis -220||Jarno Errens +180||Featherweight|
|Charles Jourdain -150||Nathaniel Wood +125||Featherweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Sept. 3 | Start time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: Accor Arena — Paris
TV channel: UFC Fight Pass
Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa: Gane is a major favorite coming into the fight on the strength of his well-rounded game. He is elusive and arguably the roster’s most technical heavyweight striker. That is a tall order for Tuivasa — a high-level brawler who gives better than he gets but do not let three consecutive Fight of the Night honors fool you. He was rocked by Derrick Lewis — a high-level gatekeeper — and the abysmal Greg Hardy before securing victories. Gane will not afford Tuivasa the exchanges or opportunities that other opponents have. If Tuivasa approaches cautiously, he is likely to get picked apart. If he fights wild, he will probably get caught. Gane should be able to take advantage of whatever gameplan Tuivasa presents en route to a raucous celebration alongside his countrymen. If Tuivasa pulls off the upset, let the beer flow. Gane via SUB3