UFC Paris takeaways — Ciryl Gane gives a masterclass, Robert Whittaker reminds how dangerous he is at 185

What was the biggest moment for UFC Paris? Jeff Wagenheim, Brett Okamoto, and Marc Raimondi shared their findings at an exciting event in France.

For the first 8 minutes of Saturday’s UFC Main Event in Paris, you can install the Arc de Triomphe in the space between Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa. That’s the way Gane wanted. For a round and a half, he’s been showing off why he’s considered the most skilled heavyweight forward on the planet. As the Frenchman controlled the distance, while delivering crisp jabs to the face and kicks to the body, Towasa kept going forward and threw a massive fist, but was unable to reach Guy.

Then Tuivasa did find his right flank midway through round 2 and Gane fell to the canvas, stiff.

“To be honest, Tai hit me so hard, he knocked me out. He turned off the lights,” Gane said through an interpreter. “I fell, but I had to be a fighter. I got up…I came back stronger.”

He did it because Gane attacked immediately, closing in and throwing everything he had. Now Tuivasa is the one who retreats, as body shots clearly took their toll. The round ended with Gane’s offense and the crowd at the Accor Arena roared. The battle is underway.

It won’t last for another round, though. Gane relentlessly attacked Tuivasa’s soft belly in round 3, and while the Australian fighter was still dangerous, Gane was no longer fighting from a distance. In the final minute of the round, he hit his opponent with a right hook that left his legs teetering, then knocked him out in a row with his left foot before referee Mark Goddard finished at 4:23.

It was a hugely successful Paris debut for the UFC, in part because of a thrilling performance from its two top heavyweights, both of whom had their moments — despite fighting in his hometown One of them had more big moments than the other.

Other than that, Gane and Tuivasa showed the best martial arts spirit. No bad blood. They smiled at each other the whole time, which never stopped them from trying to knock each other down. It was a treat for the fans, who sang loudly in the opening round and appreciated what they were witnessing.

what is that? Paris fans are watching their 32-year-old compatriot get back on track after the only loss of his career, a five-round decision against UFC heavyweight champion Francis Nganno in January. The win put Gane back in the title, and even though it was a crowded picture, Jon Jones had the inside line to the title. The days of the French will come (again) though, and after watching this great show, I can’t wait.

And if Ngannou, who used to train in Paris, still has the belt when Gane’s next title chance comes, I hope they have a title fight in the City of Lights. – Wagenheim


‘They have to come back’: Paris puts UFC on the radar with epic performance

PARIS — Benoit Saint Denis had to cheer up. He was the first French-born fighter to go out in his country with his first UFC card, and entered the Accor Arena to a hero’s welcome.

The building was packed when St Denis played, and it was only the third game of the night. Fans stood up and chanted his name as one of the biggest superstars in the sport.

In the first round, there was an eerie rumble from the stands as Saint Denis took on rival Gabriel Miranda. It didn’t end up being an ominous omen — it was just the collective sound of more than 15,405 fans stomping and applauding in support of their hometown UFC star.

“In the first minute of the fight, it felt a little bit like a video game,” St. Denis said. “It’s big. The atmosphere. It’s hard for your brain to accept that all these people are cheering you on. You have to focus on [opponent], because obviously you have work to do. This is the most important. “

St. Denis said he woke up from his disorientation when Miranda beat him in the first round. Just 16 seconds into the second round, St Denis threw Miranda to the ground and ended his game in a panic – the fans here were delirious with joy. It’s as if St Denis were Conor McGregor, Muhammad Ali and Rocky Balboa all rolled into one rather than the 26-year-old rookie in his third UFC fight.

Fares Ziam, William Gomis, Nassourdine Imavov and Ciryl Gane also received royal treatment. Ziam said when Michal Figlak stepped back, the “energy” of the crowd kept him off the handrail and poor position. The crowd boiled when Gomis escaped from Jarno Errens’ deep triangle in the third round and won the decision.

Then there’s Gayn. The crowd roared during his strike, loudest all night (until then) in the first round, cheering Garn’s name and singing the French national anthem in unison. When Gane knocked out Tuivasa in the third round, it sent fans into a frenzy of disbelief. Cheers, dancing, singing, jumping, some fans looked like they were about to cry. The atmosphere in MMA is unmatched, save for a few unreal cards in Ireland and England over the years. Maybe.

“No one on the planet expected French fans to do this,” Garn said in a post-match interview. “But brother, look at this. I’m glad.”

The stands for the first fight were about 75 percent full and filled with energy, in stark contrast to the UFC show in Las Vegas, which didn’t start filling up until the main card. The only reason spectators weren’t fully seated at UFC France’s first match in history was because many were still lining up outside.

The UFC has set up a mobile UFC store on the side of the Accor Arena, next to a giant “UFC” sign with portraits of Gane, Francis Ngannou, Georges St-Pierre and French women’s flyweight Manon Fiort on the steps.

Paris-born and raised Bernie Tamayo was next to those oversized UFC letters before the event, taking photos and meeting friends. Wearing a Valentina Shevchenko fighting suit (his favorite fighter) and a Nate Diaz hoodie, Tamayo said he’s been a UFC fan for a decade. However, as the sport is illegal in France until 2020, he is not sure if the promotion will take place in his hometown.

“I said, ‘I need to be here — at any cost,'” Tamayo said when he learned of UFC Paris. “It’s so important. For us, it’s everything.

“We need to prove to Dana White that Paris is where the UFC is in Europe.”

A 10-minute walk through Bercy district to Accor Arena, you will pass Nihon Judo dojo and Team Zeitoun Thai boxing gym. France has long been a hotspot for judo, karate and Muay Thai. Now it seems poised to be the new go-to for MMA, especially after Saturday night.

“I don’t see any other options [the UFC]”Saint Denis said. “They have to go back and forth. Just like they were in London. ” – Raymondi


Robert Whitaker is one of the best fighters on the planet

do you know? I love my ESPN colleagues and I think we’ve done some amazing work on the sport at ESPN. But I have to let them finish the task for a minute. You need to show respect to Robert Whitaker. In ESPN’s current pound-for-pound rankings, only two of six voters put Whitaker in the top 10. In this game, I put him at No. 7, the highest-ranked non-champ on my list.

I think some people are getting addicted to what’s special about fighter Whitaker. The former champ went 12-2 after moving up to middleweight, and his only two losses were against a generational talent in Israel’s Adesanya. When they last fought, two judges gave Whitaker two of five rounds against Adesanya. What he’s doing is huge. It’s not as impressive as what Adesanya did, but it should be recognized and valued.

I love his insistence in Saturday’s postgame speech that he’s been fighting for No. 1 and that he’ll be “lurking” at 185 forever. There were some headlines earlier this week about a possible move to heavyweight, but I hope that doesn’t happen.Whitaker is world class As a middleweight — with or without a belt, I appreciate his brilliance. – Okamoto

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