Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will once again venture away from the familiarity of its APEX facility and ship its cast and crew across the world for the upcoming UFC Paris fight card, locked and loaded for tomorrow afternoon (Sat., Sept. 2, 2023) from inside Accor Arena in Paris, France, featuring a 265-pound headliner between former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane and Moldovan “Polar Bear” Serghei Spivac. Like most “Fight Night” cards, you’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to stream this weekend’s live event (sign up here).
Before we dive into the main and co-main event, which includes the flyweight showdown between former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and Parisian powerhouse Manon Fiorot, check out Patrick Stumberg’s UFC Paris preliminary card breakdowns here and here. In addition, fighter-turned-writer Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Paris main card right here.
Let’s get down to business.
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Serghei Spivac
Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane
Record: 11-2 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -165
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 3 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 81” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.08 | Striking accuracy: 59%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.25 | Striking Defense: 62%
Takedown Average: 0.61 (21% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 45%
Current Ranking: No. 2 | Last fight: Submission loss to Jon Jones
Serghei “The Polar Bear” Spivac
Record: 16-3 | Age: 28 | Betting line: +140
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.79 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.84 | Striking Defense: 55%
Takedown Average: 5.05 (65% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 70%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Submission win over Derrick Lewis
Ciryl Gane is back after shitting the bed against Jon Jones at UFC 285 back in March, making “Bon Gamin” 0-2 in bouts contested for the undisputed heavyweight title. That raises some interesting questions about Gane and we may not have the answers until after tomorrow night’s headliner. On one hand, you can argue that Gane has just two losses in his professional MMA career and they came against the two baddest heavyweights in the game. It happens. Max Holloway can’t beat Alex Volkanovski and nobody could beat Khabib Nurmagomedov, so let’s not start digging Gane’s grave just yet.
On the other hand, you can argue that “Bon Gamin” was completely neutralized on the ground in both losses and will now face an opponent in Serghei Spivac, who averages five takedowns per fight (and scored 15 across his last three). In addition, Gane’s record does not hold up well under scrutiny. Junior dos Santos is the loser of five straight, while Derrick Lewis, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Tanner Boser have all dropped four of their last six. Raphael Pessoa? He was kicked out of UFC more than three years ago after posting a 1-2 record — then got knocked out three straight times on the international circuit.
It’s hard for me to board the Gane hype train — or accept his position at No. 2 in the heavyweight rankings — when he doesn’t hold a victory over anyone currently ranked in the Top 5. Who among you is ready to call him a lock against Curtis Blaydes, Tom Aspinall, Stipe Miocic, or Sergei Pavlovich?
That brings us to Spivac, who is not unlike Gane in that his rise to prominence came after a thrashing of Derrick Lewis. Outside of slaying “The Black Beast,” there’s not a whole lot to be excited about in terms of opposition. Greg Hardy is a bona fide bum, Jared Vanderaa was cut after losing five straight, and Augusto Sakai and Aleksei Oleinik have both dropped four of their last five. I’m not going crazy over Spivac’s loss to Tom Aspinall at UFC Vegas 36 because the Brit has been nothing short of sensational over the last few years, bum knee notwithstanding. Spivac’s other two losses, which came against Marcin Tybura and Walt Harris, were far enough back to lose most of their significance, operating under the assumption that Spivac has evolved as a fighter over the last three years. Judging by his recent performances, I’d say the 28 year-old “Polar Bear” is just hitting his prime.
Can he defeat Gane?
I know I went pretty hard on Gane but there’s no denying his standup skills. In addition, he’s demonstrated a command of the Octagon that allows him to create the space he needs to effectively utilize his Muay Thai attack. Spivac will have to figure out a way to bypass the Parisian’s weapons en route to a wrestling-based offense, or at least make peace with the fact that he’s going to get tagged on the way in. That makes this contest all about mentality. If Gane gets taken down and demoralized, remembering what it was like to get handled by Ngannou and Jones, this will be an easy rout for the Moldovan. Conversely, if Spivac eats leather and gets timid, perhaps making him shoot with less than 100-percent commitment, he’s going to get lit up like the Times Square Christmas tree. Five rounds is a long time to last without getting hit, so Spivac will certainly have an uphill battle — unless he gets this fight to the floor early and sinks in an arm-triangle choke or something equally effective.
Prediction: Spivac def. Gane by submission
125 lbs.: Rose Namajunas vs. Manon Fiorot
“Thug” Rose Namajunas
Record: 11-5 | Age: 31 | Betting line: +185
Wins: 2 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 5’5“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.66 | Striking accuracy: 40%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.50 | Striking Defense: 60%
Takedown Average: 1.61 (57% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 60%
Current Ranking: No. 2 (strawweight) | Last fight: Split decision loss to Carla Esparza
Manon “The Beast” Fiorot
Record: 10-1 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -155
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’7“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 6.58 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.14 | Striking Defense: 71%
Takedown Average: 1.69 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 83%
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Katlyn Chookagian
Rose Namajunas will make the transition to flyweight after spending 10 years at strawweight, which sounds like a long time but “Thug” only amassed 16 professional fights during that span. That includes her UFC 274 stinker against Carla Esparza, which is right up there with Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis on everyone’s “Worst Of” list for the last decade. The jump to 125 pounds is more necessity than experiment, according to Namajunas, who recently told the combat sports media she “wakes up at 135” and “can’t see herself going back down again,” which does not come as a surprise after turning 31 back in June.
Changing weight classes can be a tricky business and it’s hard to predict how the change will affect Namajunas. Some fighters have admitted to not working as hard in camp because they don’t have the extra weight to lose and show up underprepared, at least in terms of conditioning, while others insist the lack of a brutal cut gives them greater strength and endurance, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow in Paris to know for sure. Without that variable, we can only look at skill set and it’s hard to bet against the former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist, a powerful striker with sneaky submissions. Who else can say they’ve knocked out both Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili?
Manon Fiorot has only been competing in UFC for a little over two years but has certainly made the most of her opportunity. The former Muay Thai champ made mince meat out of Victoria Leonardo and Tabatha Ricci, scoring back-to-back second-round knockout wins, then rattled off three straight victories over opponents currently ranked in the Top 10, including No. 3-ranked bantamweight contender Mayra Bueno Silva. “The Beast” is a striker by trade and a damn good one, landing nearly seven significant strikes per minute with a defensive striking percentage of 71 percent, the best in class. Her biggest weapon, particularly against a career strawweight, is her punishing Thai plum and overall clinch game.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Namajunas in this fight. “Thug” is good enough on the feet to make it a close contest and she will undoubtedly have an advantage when it comes to submissions. That said, you never really know which version of Namajunas is going to show up and unlike Esparza, Fiorot is not the kind of opponent that will allow her to take a night off. Complicating matters is the fact that Namajunas and Fiorot only have three rounds to work. Namajunas is better when she’s counterstriking and Fiorot was not exactly running forward in her last three fights, so we could have another low volume, close call this weekend in Paris. It’s hard to pick against a fighter with a resume like Namajunas, but I will anyway, because Fiorot has yet to show any weaknesses in a weight class that could be challenging for the smaller “Thug” Rose.
Prediction: Fiorot def. Namajunas by unanimous decision
Remember, the rest of the UFC Paris main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
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+ preliminary card bouts at 12 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 3 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Paris news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Gane vs. Spivac” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.