The UFC heads to Paris this weekend aiming to show mixed martial arts (MMA) fans in the country just what they have been missing.
UFC Paris Preview
Despite France producing plenty of talented fighters, MMA was previously banned there until a change in legislation just over two years ago.
Several of the nation’s top competitors will get the chance to showcase their talents this weekend, including heavyweight Cyril Gane.
The 32-year-old rattled off 10 straight victories in the heavyweight ranks, but came up short in his most recent bout against Francis Ngannou at UFC 270.
He is a big favourite in the UFC betting to get his career back on track when he goes head-to-head with fearsome puncher Tai Tuivasa.
The Australian was a rising star in the UFC before three straight defeats derailed his progress. He took a year off before returning with a vengeance in October 2020.
Tuivasa has recorded five consecutive knockout victories since then and has been widely tipped to get a shot at the heavyweight title.
However, he may have his work cut out against Gane, who will be the toughest opponent he has faced during his time in the UFC.
Elsewhere on the card, Marvin Vettori and Robert Whittaker will bid to book a third meeting with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya when they clash in Paris.
The pair have each faced Adesanya twice in the past and neither have recorded a victory. Whittaker is the favourite to win this weekend, but will not find things easy against Vettori.
The Italian fighter was impressive in his last fight against Paulo Costa at light-heavyweight and may upset the odds in Paris.
Whittaker took plenty of punishment from Adesanya at UFC 271 on the way to his sixth defeat as a professional and Vettori could take advantage.
In a recent interview with Betway, the 28-year-old claimed that he is not yet the finished article and backed himself to win a UFC title.
“As an MMA fighter I am always improving,” he said. “Boxing, jiu jitsu, wrestling – no matter what the discipline, I want to improve.
“I’ve improved since my last fight and I can’t wait to show it in my next one. You guys will see the next version of Marvin Vettori – it’s going to be the one that will reign for a long time.”
European middleweights Alessio Di Chirico and Roman Kopylov are the main support acts to the co-main event and both have a point to prove.
Di Chirico’s stock has fallen dramatically over the past couple of years, with the Italian fighter recording just one win in his last five outings.
Kopylov began his professional career with eight straight victories, but has lost his last two bouts and is still searching for his first UFC win.
Nasrat Haqparast is a big favourite to defeat John Makdessi in their lightweight bout, but he would be well advised not to underestimate the wily veteran.
‘The Bull’ has won four of his last five contests and remains a dangerous striker even though he is in his 15th year as a professional fighter.
Khalid Taha vs Cristian Quinonez and Charles Jourdain vs Nathaniel Wood round off an excellent card that should keep UFC fans in Paris enthralled throughout.
UFC Paris – Main Card
- Ciryl Gane vs Tai Tuivasa
- Robert Whittaker vs Marvin Vettori
- Alessio Di Chirico vs Roman Kopylov
- John Makdessi vs Nasrat Haqparast
- Taylor Lapilus vs Khalid Taha
- Charles Jourdain vs Nathaniel Wood