After a pit stop in Singapore, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) international tour continues this Saturday (Sept. 2, 2023) when the Octagon returns to Accor Arena in Paris, France.
The main event sees Ciryl Gane look to bounce back from his humiliating defeat against Jon Jones (watch it), while fast-rising Serghei Spivac chases his fourth consecutive win at “Bon Gamin’s” expense. Earlier in the evening, Manon Fiorot tries to stake her claim for a women’s Flyweight title shot against the returning Rose Namajunas and Benoit Saint Denis squares off with veteran Thiago Moises.
135 lbs.: Nora Cornolle vs. Joselyne Edwards
France’s Nora Cornolle (6-1) stands unbeaten since losing her professional debut to fellow UFC debutante, Jacqueline Cavalcanti, in 2021. Her 2023 campaign already features three finishes in the span of two months.
She’s knocked out five professional foes and submitted one other.
Joselyne Edwards (13-4) signed with the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion two years after falling short in a bid for Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) gold. She’s won three straight since a 1-2 Octagon start, though she’s missed weight twice in a row.
She is the taller woman by one inch.
Cornolle has looked decent in her young MMA career, but she also hasn’t been tested. Just one of her opponents had more than four professional wins and she was struggling with 4-2 Hassna Gaber last time out before hitting her with a teep that caused a leg injury. For all of Edwards’ weaknesses, she’s much more experienced and throws a ton of volume, which seems like a stylistic issue for Cornolle’s jab-and-clinch offense.
What decides this fight is whether Cornolle can consistently land jabs and neutralize Edwards against the fence without being out-worked. With how hittable Cornolle looked against Gaber, I like Edwards to land enough arm punches to eke out her third straight split decision.
Prediction: Edwards via split decision
170 lbs.: Ange Loosa vs. Rhys McKee
Ange Loosa (9-3) fell short in a firefight with Jack Della Maddalena on Contender Series, then found himself similarly outgunned by Mounir Lazzez in his short-notice UFC debut. Then came AJ Fletcher, whom Loosa punished down the stretch to claim his first Octagon win.
This marks his first fight in more than one year.
Rhys McKee (13-4-1) — a former BAMMA champion — washed out of UFC after back-to-back losses against Khamzat Chimaev and Alex Morono. Returning to Cage Warriors proved just what he needed, as “Skeletor” racked up three consecutive knockouts while winning and defending its Welterweight title.
All of his pro wins have come inside the distance, 10 of them via knockout.
As nice as it is to see the consistently entertaining McKee back on the big stage, I don’t like his chances here. Loosa has the speed, technique and power to beat up “Skeletor” in the sort of fast-paced firefight the latter prefers. And even though McKee boasts major height and reach advantages, it doesn’t seem like he’s gotten any better at using them.
To make matters worse for McKee, Loosa is willing to wrestle if needed, which McKee has always struggled with. While McKee might be too durable for Loosa to put away, “The Last Ninja’s” superior firepower should carry him to a comfortable win.
Prediction: Loosa via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Farid Basharat vs. Kleydson Rodrigues
A rout of Allan Begosso on Contender Series led Farid Basharat (10-0) to join brother Javid in the Octagon. His debut pitted him against Da’Mon Blackshear, who pushed “Ferocious” to the limit but ultimately became his tenth professional victim.
Five of his six professional stoppages have come by rear-naked choke.
Kleydson Rodrigues (8-2) punched his UFC ticket by dominating late replacement, Santo Curatolo, in his own Contender Series bid. A shaky Octagon tenure has seen him drop a controversial decision to C.J. Vergara, miss weight in a first-round technical knockout of Shannon Ross, then miss weight again to cancel a planned clash with Tatsuro Taira.
“KR” gives up two inches of height and four inches of reach to Basharat.
I’m still fairly high on Rodrigues, honestly; he looked good on Contender Series and got robbed against Vergara. This just doesn’t seem like a particularly friendly matchup for him. On top of being ostensibly the larger man, Basharat can match “KR’s” dynamism and likely has the superior striking fundamentals.
Though Basharat looked a bit shaky against Blackshear, that win’s aged extremely well and Rodrigues doesn’t present those sorts of physical or stylistic issues. In the end, Basharat’s cleaner strikes carry him to a competitive — but clear — decision win.
Prediction: Basharat via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Paris “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including the Octagon return of French ace, Taylor Lapilus. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
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 (also on ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.
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