A former Heavyweight title challenger attempts to dazzle his countrymen this Saturday (Sept. 3, 2022) when Ciryl Gane takes on Tai Tuivasa inside Accor Arena in Paris, France. Down at 185 pounds, Robert Whittaker squares off with Marvin Vettori in a bout that could easily put the winner on the brink of a title shot, while Charles Jourdain fights Nathaniel Wood in what looks like a guaranteed “Fight of the Night” contender.
Gambling season never ends, so grab those checkbooks and let’s get rolling ....
What Went Wrong at UFC 278 (The Part You’ve All Been Waiting For)?
Alexandr Romanov, A.J. Fletcher and Jose Aldo
I’m making these a group because I feel like I can attribute all of their losses to the same thing: I straight-up didn’t realize they were fighting at altitude. All three looked great in the early going; Romanov was ragdolling Marcin Tybura, Fletcher was piecing up Ange Loosa, and Aldo was staying off the fence and consistently catching Merab Dvalishvili with counter knees. Then fatigue set in and they all, well, stopped doing that.
Jared Gordon, Amir Albazi and Tyson Pedro
They did everything I expected them to: a cardio-fueled beatdown from Gordon, a submission from Albazi, and an ultra-quick mauling from Pedro. A+, gentlemen.
There’s the altitude again. The guy went from putting on 25 minutes of mayhem with one of the division’s most exhausting fighters, Marvin Vettori, to gassing so badly he couldn’t stop a completely fried Luke Rockhold.
Despite being 80 percent limb and like 2 percent body fat, Woodson had never shown durability problems in the Octagon. His takedown defense generally holds up better than that, too, but I’m willing to chalk that up to fatigue. While I was expecting him to struggle early with Luis Saldana’s movement early on, the last thing I expected was for him to run face-first into a check hook and get short-circuited. Luckily, Saldana punched him so hard his own brain fell out, resulting in a critical point deduction and draw. Not that it mattered, because...
Okay, gonna bare my heart for a second. If that’s not your cup of tea, ctrl-F “undercard” to skip it if you’re on desktop or just keep scrolling. Either or.
There was an old interview with Chael Sonnen where, in a rare moment of unfiltered honesty, he explained that winning a fight was a relief rather than a triumph. Even when I was in the green for the year, that’s what it often felt like. I watch fights with my stomach in a knot, waiting to either exhale if my pick wins or feel my guts invert if they don’t. It’s not even about personal pride at having a big shiny number; I started doing this because it was fun and I wanted to to help people make money. It hurts when I’m wrong because I’m terrified someone trusted me with their money and I led them astray.
And what’s so frustrating is that in terms of picking pure win/loss without money involved, this is the best year I’ve ever had. I was around 60% on my Prelims picks last year and I’m around 67 percent so far in 2022. Two out of every three fights right, and yet it feels like the third always turns out to be the one I told people to put money on. I’m using the same general straight/parlay tactics that worked out the last few years while watching more tape than ever, and it ain’t working.
I want to keep doing this, even if it sometimes feels like these stakes make it exponentially more difficult to just enjoy a fight. I miss how it felt to watch UFC at the start, when it was just me, the other guys in Vanderbilt BJJ, and the godawful sports bar that was 100 percent a money laundering front. But I’m going to keep writing, and you’re free to choose whether to listen. I’ll push in another $400 to make an even $1,000 and we’ll go from there.
UFC Paris Odds For The Under Card:
Abusupiyan Magomedov (-260) vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+220)
While Magomedov has been out of action for quite some time, even the 2018 version of him would get my recommendation in this matchup. Stoltzfus’ wrestling has regularly failed him against UFC-caliber grapplers, and with Magomedov’s wrestling chops, “Abus” has a clear path to victory. Magomedov is also the heavier-handed of the two, which should allow him to control the standup considering Stoltzfus’ lack of striking polish.
Michal Figlak (-195) vs. Fares Ziam (+165)
For my money, Figlak is the most promising of the many, many fighters making their UFC debuts this weekend. He’s also perfectly suited to beating Ziam, boasting a pressure-heavy, high-volume striking style that can overwhelm Ziam’s piecemeal offense. Plus, Figlak’s got some wrestling in his back pocket, which Ziam has consistently struggled with in the Octagon. A worthwhile investment.
Benoit Saint-Denis (-265) vs. Gabriel Miranda (+225)
Gabriel Miranda’s only chance here is an out-of-nowhere submission. Saint-Denis has a clear edge on the feet and an equally prominent wrestling advantage; as dangerous as “Fly’s” BJJ can be, it’s not much of a threat when “God of War” can dictate where and when the ground exchanges take place or even avoid them entirely. Saint-Denis will make the French faithful proud.
Nassourdine Imavov (-260) vs. Joaquin Buckley (+220)
Not touching this one. Imavov has the superior technical striking and a proven track record against super-aggressive opponents, but Buckley looked ridiculously improved against Albert Duraev and has shown himself much too dangerous to bet against in general.
Khalid Taha (-125) vs. Christian Quinonez (+105)
While I acknowledge that Taha’s underwhelming UFC record was the product of very tough matchmaking, I like Quinonez’s chances of pulling the upset. “Problema’s” long-range, movement-heavy offense seems a good answer to Taha’s heavy swings, and he can also wrestle a bit if needed. Don’t go crazy, as Quinonez’s tendency to lean away from punches and reluctance to check low kicks could give Taha the opening he needs to drop the hammer, but don’t overlook him, either.
Stephanie Egger (-285) vs. Ailin Perez (+240)
Ailin Perez was going to destroy Zarah Fairn, and now that Fairn has withdrawn, she’s going to get destroyed by Stephanie Egger. “Fiona” is usually laser-focused on getting the clinch, which plays right into Egger’s hands. On top of that, Perez isn’t a particularly fearsome striker or submission artist, so there’s little stopping Egger from implementing her game. Even at those bloated odds, Egger’s worth it.
UFC Paris Odds For The Main Card:
Ciryl Gane (-540) vs. Tai Tuivasa (+420)
If someone’s close to even and you want to give them that final nudge into the positives, Gane might not be the worst option. Tuivasa lacks the wrestling that Francis Ngannou used to shut “Bon Gamin” down and the height/reach that allowed Alexander Volkov to keep pace with him. Tuivasa’s proven he can hang with other brawlers during his current streak, but he’s yet to face someone even remotely comparable to Gane.
Robert Whittaker (-230) vs. Marvin Vettori (+195)
I do like “Bobby Knuckles” here. He’s historically very seasoned in the sort of high-energy slugfests Vettori prefers, from his duology with Yoel Romero to his successful defusal of Jared Cannonier. He’s also shown off sufficient wrestling chops to take Vettori’s top game out of the equation, so bank on the former champ.
Alessio Di Chirico (-115) vs. Roman Kopylov (-105)
If I had to pick someone, it would be Kopylov, but Di Chirico has surprised me in the past. Probably best to steer clear.
Charles Jourdain (-135) vs. Nathaniel Wood (+115)
Speaking as a diehard fan of Charles Jourdain, Wood’s a pretty tempting underdog. Not only can he match Jourdain’s output, he’s a strong wrestler, which Jourdain regularly struggles with. It’s a super volatile matchup, so keep the investment measured, but do be sure it’s there.
William Gomis (-230) vs. Jarno Errens (+185)
I’m willing to stick my neck out for Gomis. He’s far more versatile, powerful, and fleet-of-foot than Errens; so long as he doesn’t sandbag like in some of his recent efforts, he should run circles around the Dutchman.
Nasrat Haqparast (-230) vs. John Makdessi (+195)
On paper, the younger, faster, more powerful Haqparast should win this without issue. Thing is, he’s really struggled to rise to the occasion, while Makdessi turned back the clock in impressive fashion in his last fight with Ignacio Bahamondes. Gun to my head, Haqparast, but this is a pie I’m not sticking a finger into.
UFC Paris Best Bets:
- Parlay — Benoit Saint-Denis and William Gomis: Bet $80 to make $81.60
- Single bet — Nathaniel Wood: Bet $40 to make $46
- Parlay — Michal Figlak and Stephanie Egger: Bet $60 to make $62.40
- Parlay — Ciryl Gane and Cristian Quinonez: Bet $50 to make $71.50
- Parlay — Robert Whittaker and Abusupiyan Magomedov: Bet $80 to make $82.40
UFC Paris’ top two fights are great, and if you enjoy watching developing talent, you’re in luck. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Initial Investment For 2022: $600
Additional Investment (Aug. 2022): $400
Current Total: $401.32
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Paris fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.
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