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X-Factor! Check out some UFC Paris main card predictions | Gane vs. Spivac

This weekend (Sat., Sept. 2, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventures forth toward Accor Arena in Paris, France, for UFC Paris. Two different countries, with live crowds, just a week apart?!? It’s almost like we’re back in 2019! It took many years and several significant hurdles to legalize mixed martial arts (MMA) in France, but the athletes have hit the ground running. Ciryl Gane is a worthy main event, and the talented French striker will be looking to rebound and prove his ground defense against Russian wrestling ace, Sergey Spivac. Prior to the clash of giants, former champion Rose Namajunas returns to action in a new weight class, and a good bit of local talent will make their big stage debuts.

Let’s dig into all the main card fights leading up to the co-main event:

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 79 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES LIGHTWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX on Sat., Sept. 23, 2023, with a high stakes 155-pound showdown as No. 6-ranked contender, Rafael Fiziev, takes on No. 7-seeded Mateusz Gamrot. In UFC Vegas 79’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Featherweight contender, Bryce Mitchell, steps back into the Octagon against No. 13-seeded Dan Ige.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Lightweight: Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Thiago Moises

Best Win for Saint-Denis? Ismael Bonfim For Moises? Bobby Green
Current Streak: Saint-Denis has won three in a row, whereas Moises has won two straight
X-Factor: It’s a significant step up in competition for Saint-Denis
How these two match up: Lightweight rarely fails to provide great fights.

Saint-Denis is among the many poor souls who used a short-notice opportunity up a weight class to get their foot in the door. After getting smacked around by Elizeu Zaleski, Saint-Denis dropped to Lightweight and ripped off three straight finishes, showcasing powerful kickboxing, top-tier jiu-jitsu, and a relentless pace.

At 28 years of age, Moises has already fought quite the handful of top talent. The Brazilian is good everywhere, but the mat is where he shines, having finished eight opponents via submission.

This bout comes down to takedown defense. Both men are skilled everywhere, but the biggest difference-maker that jumps off the page is kickboxing. Saint-Denis is just a much more aggressive, punishing striker. He hurts people fairly often, whereas striking is often a means to an end for Moises.

The question is whether Moises can drag him to the floor and impose his excellent top game. Given that the defensive wrestling of Saint-Denis has never really been tested, all we can judge him by is his wrestling offense. In that regard, Saint-Denis is technical, physical, and can keep wrestling without slowing down.

It’s a gamble, but I’ll bet that means his takedown defense ain’t half bad.

Prediction: Saint-Denis via decision

Light Heavyweight: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov

Best Win for Oezdemir? Aleksandr Rakic For Guskov? Carlos Eduardo
Current Streak: Oezdemir lost his last bout, while Guskov debuts having won four in a row
X-Factor: Oezdemir has won just once since 2020
How these two match up: Somebody is going to sleep.

Oezdemir is a pretty known quality at this point. He’s got serious knockout power, a solid chin, and wrestling that is mostly good enough. However, he will slow down a bit in long fights, and top-of-the-food-chain wrestlers have certainly succeeded in overpowering his takedown defense.

Guskov is looking to debut straight into the Top 10! The Uzbek knockout artist is known for finishing fights violently and quickly. He’s got an absolutely brutal right hand that can end fights in an instant, and he’s got some sneaky kickboxing combinations as well.

Historically, blitzing Oezdemir with power is not the way to defeat “No Time.” It worked for Jiri Prochazka, but well, “BJP” is special. He’s durable and composed in the pocket, able to back off most aggressive punchers with his own formidable knockout power. Despite having been knocked out once previously, the 30-year-old Guskov still fights with the absurd confidence of an undefeated teenager.

All the technical signs argue Oezdemir should win this. His combinations are better, his defense is tighter, and his low kicks could really break apart Guskov’s flat-footed stance. Yet, this is MMA, so siding against logic and with raw athleticism is a good idea as often as not.

Call it intuition.

Prediction: Guskov via knockout

Featherweight: Yanis Ghemmouri vs. William Gomis

Best Win for Ghemmouri? Rachid Haz For Gomis? Francis Marshall
Current Streak: Ghemmouri has won nine straight ahead of his UFC debut, while Gomis has won two in a row
X-Factor: One of two last-second match up changes
How these two match up: A pair of young French talents hope to shine.

Ghemmouri cut his teeth in BRAVE CF and UAE Warriors, mostly as a Featherweight. He’s something of a generalist, having finished opposition via knockout and submission at a fairly even clip. Gomis, meanwhile, is an MMA Factory product that shows their usual game plan: rangy kickboxing, good footwork, and solid takedown defense.

This was supposed to be Ghemmouri’s first appearance at 135 pounds since 2021, which adds some intrigue here. He’s no longer going to be the bigger man here, which will impede his efforts to landing and securing takedowns. He’ll still be fighting a striker, but Gomis is more of a kicker compared to Loughran and his combination punching.

Despite the change in opponent, my ultimate prediction in how the fight plays out remains unmoved. Gomis is the superior striker, and he’s shown the defensive wrestling to keep this one in his wheelhouse, leading to an unsuccessful debut for his fellow Frenchman.

Prediction: Gomis via decision

Bantamweight: Taylor Lapilus vs. Caolan Loughran

Best Win for Lapilus? Wilson Reis For Loughran? Dylan Hazan
Current Streak: Lapilus has won five in a row to score a second UFC stint, while Loughran debuts at 8-0
X-Factor: The second of two last-second match up changes
How these two match up: A skilled veteran will test a promising up-and-comer.

Lapilus never should’ve been released in the first place. A gifted physical talent with well-rounded skills, it always felt like Lapilus could do a bit more to pursue the finish, but he still went 3-1 in four UFC fights! Fortunately, “Double Impact” is back eight years later, now in the prime of his career.

Loughran, who was supposed to fight Ghemmouri, kind of got screwed here. The former Cage Warriors kingpin is a sharp boxing and quality finisher, having stopped all but one of his foes before the bell, but he’s facing a far tougher challenge after the bout reorder.

Lapilus has the skill and experience to avoid Loughran’s strongest assets, namely his combination boxing. Likely, the veteran is able to work his distance striking effectively, then time Loughran’s forward advances with takedowns. Instead of a debut showcase, Loughran will endure a frustrating learning lesson.

Prediction: Lapilus via decision

‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2023: 35-27-1 (2)

Remember that 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.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Paris: “Gane vs. Spivac” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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