The UFC’s return to Paris has been boosted by a strong card that features a whole host of established fighters from former champions to top contenders and plenty of up-and-coming prospects who have had the MMA world talking for the last couple of months. This article will aim to look at five drawing from both categories and discuss who it is you should be keeping an eye on this Saturday when the UFC visits Paris.
Fighters to Watch at UFC Paris
Rhys McKee will be making his return to the UFC after a failed stint back in 2020. Looking back it is fair to say that McKee was unfairly cut when he ended up facing Alex Morono and Khamzat Chimaev in his first two fights in the promotion. Sent back to Cage Warriors with his tail between his legs, McKee would dust himself off and go 3-0 in a run that would see him both win and defend the Cage Warriors Welterweight championship.
That run would be enough for him to earn the call back into the UFC and is set to make his second debut against Ange Loosa, a fighter with 1-1 record in the organisation so far. McKee will need to pick up the win here as he can be given the benefit of the doubt given the quality of his first two opponents but if he is serious about progressing to the pinnacle of the sport then a fighter like Loosa is someone that he needs to be beating.
An unknown commodity at the moment, Bogdan Guskov has obviously impressed the UFC in order to gain a ranked opponent inside the top 10 for his first bout at Light Heavyweight. Watching some highlights of him on YouTube will let you know the likely reason, as does a look at his record.
The Uzbek fighter possesses serious amounts of power. With 14 wins, 12 knockouts and two submissions, Guskov has developed a reputation for finishing fights. Primarily fighting in Russian promotion MMA Series it is clear that the level of opponent that Guskov has been facing will not be that of the UFC and Volkan Ozedemir will be by far the best fighter he has fought, yet one thing that affects all fighters equally regardless of skills, techniques and experience is power and Guskov appears to carry plenty of it. The question remains whether he will be able to utilise it against a much tougher opponent.
Another Cage Warriors champ who is making the switch to the UFC, Caolan Loughran won the belt earlier this year in Rome at Cage Warriors 154 against top Italian Bantamweight Dylan Hazan.
Possessing excellent power and strength, Loughran is able to use his bulky frame at 135lbs to overpower his opponents and is more than capable of securing a knockout punch. Very vocal on his social media accounts, Loughran has made it well known his intentions to scale the bantamweight division and has his eyes set squarely on the champion. He will certainly see his opponent Yanis Ghemmouri as just another stepping stone on the road to the title, however, he would be unwise to overlook the Frenchman who will be receiving plenty of support from the home fans and will be extremely eager to impress in his own debut.
“Thug” Rose Namajunas will be making her Flyweight debut on Saturday against possibly the toughest matchup in the division. Number 2 ranked, Manon Fiorot will welcome her to 125 lbs in what will surely be a baptism of fire.
Namajunas has had several insane ups and downs in her career, twice winning the strawweight belt and beating the two most dominant fighters ever seen in the division in Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Weili Zhang. Namajunas lost the belt each time in a strange and anti-climatic fashion. The first time saw her be slammed on her head by Jessica Andrade and the second time saw her lose in what has been labelled by many as the worst title fight ever in a split decision loss to Carla Esparza. Still, Namajunas is more than capable of a highlight reel performance and it remains to be seen if she will carry that tendency to 125 lbs.
A somewhat left-field shout admittedly, yet Tom Aspinall has declared that he will be present in Paris for the card and has stated his desire to fight the winner of Ciryl Gane and Sergey Spivak.
With many fans clamouring for him to instead fight Russian KO artist Sergei Pavlovich, it remains to be seen how the main event will play out on Saturday and if the outcome will affect Aspinall’s decision to fight either man.
His end goal is clear, he wishes to fight Jon Jones and will likely pursue whichever path brings him closer to that goal. One of the most talked about fighters in the sport at the moment, fans will eagerly be awaiting to see if he will announce his next move this Saturday in Paris.