In June of 2019, the French minister of sports Roxana Maracinenu announced to the world that in 2020, France would be, at long last, legalizing the sport of MMA. With that date rapidly approaching, it’s clear that the UFC’s debut in Paris is looming. With this in mind, today we’ll be planning out the best possible card for the debut UFC Paris.
Important note: It’s highly likely that this card will be a Fight Night card, not a pay per view. Unfortunately for French MMA fans, you won’t be getting the rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou.
UFC Paris Card
UFC Paris Headliner: Francis Ngannou vs Alexander Volkov
This one is a no brainer. Francis Ngannou is easily France’s biggest MMA star and his homecoming has been long overdue. If he is able to get past Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Columbus in March, a summer showdown with looming Russian rival Alexander Volkov should be next for Ngannou. Especially if the UFC goes with their plan to book Miocic vs Daniel Cormier 3 in 2020. Volkov, however, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Greg Hardy in his home country of Russia. After the fight, Drago immediately called for a fight with Ngannou. He took exception to Ngannou signing to fight Rozenstruik next. This fight has heat, makes sense for the division, and is the perfect, no brainer headliner for the first UFC Paris card.
The Co-Main Event: Ciryl Gane vs Greg Hardy
Fighting out of Vincennes, France and the teammate of Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane is proving himself to be the next big force in the UFC heavyweight division. A lifelong striker, Gane has begun his UFC career by cranking out two wins via submission. Most recently defeating Don’Tale Mayes via heel hook in October. As for Hardy, the controversial fighter has had a strange start to his UFC tenure but has proven he’s always willing to throw down. After suffering a broken hand in his last fight against Volkov, his recovery timeline puts him on track for a summer showdown with Gane at UFC Paris.
The Remainder of the Main Card
Germaine de Randamie vs Irene Aldana
De Randamie attempts to rebound from her crushing title loss against surging up and comer Irene Aldana. Aldana recently defeated number two ranked Ketlen Vieira with a devastating knockout.
Davey Grant vs Taylor Lapilus
Lapilus makes his much-deserved UFC return here, and he takes on a worthy opponent in Grant. Grant last defeated Grigorii Popov in November.
Nordine Taleb vs Peter Sobotta
Taleb’s retirement fight takes place in his home country, and here he meets German foe, Sobotta. Sobotta is 4-2 in the UFC and would return to the Octagon for the first time since March 2018.
Nicolas Dalby vs Gunnar Nelson
Dalby would be in search of his second straight UFC win against Nelson, a once top prospect who has dropped two in a row.
Louis Smolka vs Tom Duqesnoy
I’ll say what you’re thinking, and you’re right, this one is contingent on the “Fire Kid” getting his desire to fight back. If anything can rekindle that fire, it’s the chance to return in his home country. Smolka would be a good return fight with the winner in position to rise the bantamweight ranks in 2020.
Thibault Gouti vs Vinc Pichel
Gouti gets his opportunity to snap a two-fight win streak in his homeland against a fighter in Pichel who last defeated surging prospect Roosevelt Roberts in June.
Makwan Amirkhani vs Anthony Dizy
Amirkhani gets a chance to spoil the debut of Dizy, a French featherweight who has compiled a 13-3 record across Cage Warriors, BAMMA and most recently M-1 Challenge.
Tom Breese vs Djati Melan
Breese could make his return from injury against an undefeated prospect fighting out of Paris in Djati Melan. Breese, who hasn’t competed since May of 2018, looked amazing in his first fight at 185lbs and would serve as a good, stiff test for Melan.
Alexandra Albu vs Ashley Yoder
A fun strawweight match between two women who are looking to get back to their winning ways.
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