After spending last weekend in Singapore, the UFC is going to spend one more weekend abroad as UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Spivac lands at the Accor Arena for promotion’s second event in Paris, France . And, headlining the card for a second time will be France’s own Ciryl Gane, as he takes on Moldova’s Serghei Spivac in a top-10 heavyweight showdown.
Second-ranked Gane last fought in March when he faced Jon Jones for the vacant heavyweight title. He lost his second title fight in his last three fights, this time by submission. His previous two fights were a loss to Francis Ngannou by decision for the belt, followed by a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa. His next opponent, No. 7 Spivac, brings a bit of a different style than his last three opponents.
Spivac is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, which includes TKo wins over Greg Hardy and Augisto Sakai, followed by a submission of Derrick Lewis last February. The 28-year-old has a lot of years ahead of him and a win over Gane would put him one step closer to a title shot. For Gane, he needs a win to potentially set up a rematch with Jones, should he get past former champ Stipe Miocic in November.
The co-main event showcases former strawweight champ Rose Namajunas, as she makes her flyweight debut against France’s Manon Fiorot, a dynamic striker, who has not lost a fight since her pro debut in Jun. 2018. Namajunas lost her strawweight title for the second time, when she dropped a split decision to Carla Esparza in May 2022 in one of the most boring and action-less title fights in UFC history. She is looking to enter the 125-pound rankings, as No. 3 Fiorot, who is sitting at 5-0 in the Octagon, will be looking to stake her claim as a title contender with a signature win.
UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Spivac airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.. Combat Press writers Dan Kuhl and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.
Ciryl Gane laid an egg in his last outing when he challenged Jon Jones for the undisputed heavyweight title; does he rebound with a win in front of a home crowd?
Kuhl: Ciryl Gane has two losses on his professional record – Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones – and both were for the undisputed UFC heavyweight crown. That’s nothing to scoff at. He went the distance with Ngannou, who was on a winning streak of five knockouts in a row, and Jones is, well, Jones. The former light heavyweight champ is still possibly the greatest MMA fighter of all time. Out of the two fights, the one that might be more indicative of this weekend’s outcome is the Jones match-up.
Serghei Spivac can strike well, and he has knockout power, but he also has a great ground game. And, other than a couple first-round tune-ups at the hands of more grappling-heavy guys like Tom Aspinall and Walt Harris, he hasn’t really been stopped by a pure striker like Gane. Now, Gane does have some submission skills, but he’s not quite at the level that Spivac is. And, Spivac doesn’t hold a candle to Gane’s striking – or Jones’s striking, for that matter.
All fights start standing, and this one is going to be a tough draw for Spivac right out of the gate. While Spivac has traditionally weighed in a bit heavier than Gane, the Frenchman will have a two-inch height advantage, a professional Muay Thai background and the hometown crowd behind him. If he can keep the Moldovan at distance and pick him apart, he could score a lot of points en route to a decision victory. However, if he gets taken down this one could go to Spivac by way of submission.
I’m taking Gane by unanimous decision.
Petela: The big question is: can Serghei Spivac take down Ciryl Gane? If not, the Parisian crowd will be in for a treat, and the arena will be rocking like they just stormed the Bastille. However, if Spivac gets this one to the mat, the crowd will be in a stunned silence as the Moldovan scores a submission victory.
All that is to say that Dan isn’t wrong in his analysis. However, he is wrong about how this one will play out. Coming off the heels of that loss to Jon Jones, Gane will be extra wary of being taken down, which will end up backfiring. He won’t take enough chances to earn Spivac’s respect on the feet, and this one is going to start out slow and methodical. Some might even say, “boring.” After two lackluster rounds, both men will be getting an earful from their respective corners.
The dynamic of the fight will change in the third round. Gane will get a little more aggressive and land a few decent strikes, but he doesn’t have the one-punch knockout power of many less technical heavyweights. The Frenchman will only be slightly off balance after a push kick or side kick, it will get caught, and he will find himself on his back. That’ll be the beginning of the end. Once the fight gets to the mat, it will be a quick path to victory for Spivac. A few heavy punches and elbows on the ground will fluster Gane, and, as he covers up to avoid being hit, Spivac will latch onto an arm and do his best to take it home with him. Third-round submission win for Spivac in hostile territory.
Manon Fiorot has her toughest test to date against former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas; does the Frenchwoman earn a victory and put herself in position for a title shot?
Petela: Manon Fiorot has passed every test she’s faced inside the UFC with flying colors, and, with all due respect to Rose Namajunas, I disagree with the notion that she is the toughest test for Fiorot. There are questions about how good Namajunas will be at flyweight, having made her career and earned the title at strawweight. What made Namajunas so good at strawweight was the damage her cumulative strikes would do to wear down opponents and her ability to sneak in submissions quickly and, often, unexpectedly. At flyweight, I’m not sure that her striking will have the same impact, even if she is able to maintain a high work rate. Also, if she’s bulked up at all to fit a flyweight frame she could likely be just a shade less agile than she was previously and at the highest level of mixed martial arts that can mean the difference between securing a submission and winding up in a bad position during a scramble.
This is certainly the biggest name that Fiorot has ever faced, and I expect her to use it as a springboard to call for a title shot. A dominant performance over a former champion is exactly what she needs to separate herself from Erin Blanchfield as the rightful next title challenger. Blanchfield earned a decision win in a close fight over Taila Santos last week, but, with a second-round TKO win over Namajunas, it will be Fiorot who has rightfully earned a shot at the winner of the rematch between Alexa Grasso and Valentina Shevchenko.
Kuhl: I completely agree with my colleague. Manon Fiorot is a force to be reckoned with, and the ladies of the flyweight division have been finding out the hard way. The French standout has looked amazing her entire career, having beaten every opponent except for the woman she faced in her pro debut five years ago.
Rose Namajunas is obviously a superstar MMA athlete and former two-time strawweight champ, but she has been hit-or-miss lately, depending on her mentality going into both her camps and fights. Coming back up to flyweight at this point in her career, after one of the most boring fights in MMA history against Carla Esparza last year seems questionable. If she doesn’t want to make weight, that can be a sign of a loss of interest in the sport.
With Namajunas, skill has never been an issue. She will have more experience at the highest level and better grappling skills than Fiorot. But, Fiorot is going to bring relentless striking pressure, and that’s not something I’m entirely sure Namajunas will be ready for. Hopefully, Namajunas is not on her way out mentally, but I see Fiorot getting her hand raised with some form of knockout before the final bell.
What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?
Kuhl: Zarah Fairn could very well be out of the UFC after this weekend. There’s not much analysis here, other than the fact that she is 0-3 in the Octagon. She is fighting Portugal’s Jacqueline Calvacanti, who is making her UFC debut, and, should she lose, she is almost certainly getting a pink slip.
Petela: Where does Volkan Oezdemir go from here if he loses this weekend? He has lost three of his last four fights and hasn’t picked up a finish since 2019. I expect him to pull off a win, but, if he gets bested by Bogdan Guskov, “No Time” might be checking his watch in the unemployment line.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Petela: Ange Loosa vs. Rhys McKee. This is McKee’s second stint with the UFC, dropping back-to-back fights in his only two promotional appearances before being cut. He returned to the Cage Warriors organization and won three consecutive bouts, all stoppages. This time around expect to see a much improved Irish fighter who will get his first win in the UFC and begin to secure a foothold with the promotion.
Kuhl: The ladies bantamweight bout between Nora Cornolle and Joselyne Edwards is shaping up to be a great fight. France’s Cornolle is a badass Muay Thai fighter, who is on a six-fight winning streak in MMA, all by stoppage. Her only MMA loss was by decision in her pro debut to Jacqueline Cavalcanti, who is also on this card. Edwards is a gritty fighter who can stop the fight anywhere or travel the distance, which is the only way her fights have gone in six UFC appearances. She is on a three-fight winning streak, and will be looking to outwork the Frenchwoman in her promotional debut.
Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?
Kuhl: I have been impressed with Manon Fiorot going back to her UAE Warriors days, and she has continued her success in the UFC. She is a complete buzzsaw and is now 5-0 in the Octagon. If she can stop a former champ like Rose Namajunas, which I suspect she may, that will definitely send her home with some extra cash.
Petela: Benoit Saint-Denis. Every time he fights I bring this up but daggum he is one tough son of a gun, even in comparison to other mixed martial artists. He has been on a roll since his short notice debut loss in his UFC debut and that train keeps chugging along this weekend. The biggest win of his career, by knockout, over Thiago Moises will earn him an extra $50K.
Pair this card with…
Petela: Edith Piaf’s greatest hits. The card is in France, so why not listen to The Little Sparrow in between fights? With hits like La Vie en Rose and Je Ne Regrette Rien, she’s an absolute legend, and the soothing songstress will be just what you need to get your heart rate back down after a series of exciting bouts.
Kuhl: This is a daytime card in the United States, so let’s keep it simple with a charcuterie board – French cheeses, cured meats, some olives, a few relishes, and, of course, a nice baguette. Pop some French wine and enjoy the show.
Main Card (ESPN+, 3 p.m. ET)
HW: Ciryl Gane vs. Serghei Spivac
Women’s FlyW: Manon Fiorot vs. Rose Namajunas
LW: Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Thiago Moises
LHW: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov
FW: Yanis Ghemmouri vs. William Gomis
FW: Morgan Charriere vs. Manolo Zecchini
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 12:30.m. ET)
BW: Taylor Lapilus vs. Caolan Loughran
WW: Ange Loosa vs. Rhys McKee
Women’s BW: Nora Cornolle vs. Joselyne Edwards
BW: Farid Basharat vs. Kleydson Rodrigues
Women’s BW: Zarah Fairn vs. Jacqueline Cavalcanti
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