Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is heading back to “The City of Love” as UFC Paris goes down later TODAY (Sept. 2, 2023) inside Accor Arena in Paris, France, featuring a Heavyweight bout between former interim title holder, Ciryl Gane, and Serghei Spivac. In the co-main event, Manon Fiorot will welcome Rose Namajunas to the Flyweight division.
After starting off his mixed martial arts (MMA) career at 10-0, including capturing UFC’s interim Heavyweight title by stopping Derrick Lewis via strikes at UFC 265 (see it), Gane has hit a bit of a rough patch. He went on to lose to Francis Ngannou in a title unification bout, before bouncing back with a knockout win over Tai Tuivasa (video here). He then faced the biggest challenge of his combat career against a returning Jon Jones, who was making his 265-pound debut. That fight was over as quick as it began because “Bones” returned with a vengeance, choking out the Frenchman in little more than two minutes (see it here). Now, “Bon Gamin” is looking to get back into the win column to preserve his No. 2 ranking.
Standing in his way is Spivac, a man who was quietly won six of his last seven fights inside the Octagon, including his last three wins via stoppage, which includes a first round submission win over the aforementioned Lewis. Currently ranked No. 7, Spivac has a big opportunity to crack the Top 5 and put his hat into the championship picture. It goes without saying that Spivac’s best chance at victory is to use his grappling to take this fight to the ground and work his submissions. That’s because he has seven wins by submission on his record to Gane’s five. Gane’s only stoppage loss came after “Bones” forced him to tap and the former kickboxer has never been knocked out. To that end, Gane has the distinct striking advantage, and though it’s not always appealing to the eye, his style gets the job done more often than not. Gane can not afford another loss here because it will severly hurt his chances of fighting for the title again anytime soon. Granted, there isn’t a ton of new blood in the division knocking at the door ready to take out the old guard, but “Bon Gamin” is in a mist-win situation here. For Spivac, a win over Gane would undoubtedly be one of the biggest conquests of his career.
There isn’t anything the promotion can do about last-minute withdrawals and injuries, but this card was plagued with setbacks, which resulted in a lot of newcomers — which we will discuss below — having to step in. That my leave a lot of fans disappointed, which may result in less viewers for this event since it’s not exactly a card filled with stars and well-known names.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Muin Gafurov was forced to withdraw from his Bantamweight fight against Taylor Lapilus because of visa issues. Stepping in to fill the void is Caolan Loughran, who will be making his UFC debut. Volkan Oezdemir and Azamat Murzakanov were set to throw down on this card, but Murzakanov was forced out for undisclosed reasons. As a result, UFC enlisted the services of newcomer Bogdan Guskov.
Sam Patterson came down with an illness and was unable to make it to face Nasrat Haqparast. As a result, Landon Quinones agreed to face Haqparast at UFC 293 next weekend, which is headlined by a Middleweight scrap between division king, Israel Adesanya, and Sean Strickland.
Hailey Cowan suffered an undisclosed injury and forced out of her fight against Zarah Fairn dos Santos. She was replaced by Jacqueline Cavalcanti, who will also be maker her UFC debut in a fight that will be contested at a Catchweight of 140 pounds. Lucas Almeida announced his withdrawal against featherweight opponent William Gomis due to an undisclosed injury. Yanis Ghemmouri answered the call and agreed to make his UFC debut on short notice.
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) women’s Bantamweight champion, Jacqueline Cavalcanti, agreed to step in to face Zarah Fairn dos Santos after Hailey Cowan bowed out. Cavalcanti is on a three-fight win streak and has won five of her first six fights as a professional. As for dos Santos, she has lost three straight and is in big need of a win.
As mentioned, the undefeated Loughran (8-0) will face Lapilus, who will be making his return to the Octagon after fighting on the regional circuit for the last seven years. In his first UFC run, Lapilus went 3-1 but parted ways with the promotion in 2016. As for Loughran, the 27 year old has stopped seven of his first eight opponents, five via knockout and two by way of submission.
After losing her first-ever fight to Jacqueline Cavalcante — who will also be making her UFC debut on this card — back in 2021, Nora Cornolle hasn’t tasted defeat since, racking up an impressive six-fight win streak, five via technical knockout and one submission, four of them in the first round. She will face Joselyne Edwards, who has really turned things around after a rocky 1-2 start with the promotion, winning her last three.
Winner of four straight, Bogdan Guskov will have a huge opportunity in his first-ever UFC fight against former Light Heavyweight title contender, Volkan Oezdemir, on the main card. Guskov is an absolute monster, having won 12 of his last 13 outings, and has scored finishes in all of his wins, 12 knockouts with two submissions. If Oezdemir doesn’t keep his head on swivel, he could find himself on the wrong end of a upset, which is something he can not afford since his 1-3 over his last four fights.
After nine straight wins, Yanis Ghemmouri got the call up to the big show on short notice to fill in for Lucas Almeida, who bowed out of his Featherweight bout against William Gomis. Ghemmouri has a big opportunity in front of him in his first-ever UFC fight because it will be on the main card, so making a splash right away is of the utmost importance. As for Gomis, he isn’t trying to be anyone’s stepping stone because he wants to add to his ever-impressive 10-fight win streak, which includes winning his first two UFC fights.
Morgan Charriere and Manolo Zecchini will make their UFC debuts opposite each other. Charriere is a Cage Warriors veteran riding a three-fight win streak. As for Zecchini, he has won two straight, which has been the story of his MMA career for the last six years. Indeed, he hasn’t managed to win three in a row since 2017, which has prevented him from picking up much steam.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
We have already discussed three of the five undercard fights in a previous section, so let’s dive in to take a look at the other two undercard bouts.
In the Welterweight division, Ange Loosa is out to win his second straight inside the Octagon when he battles Rhys McKee. Loosa came up short against Mounir Lazzez in his UFC debut, but manages to pick up his first win with the promotion by taking A.J. Fletcher the distance and ultimately winning the unanimous decision. As for McKee, he is returning to the Octagon after a three-year hiatus. In his first run with the promotion back in 2020, he suffered back-to-back losses at the hands of Khamzat Chimaev and Alex Morono. But, after earning three straight first round technical knockout wins on the regional circuit, he got an invite back and is out for his first win with the promotion.
In the Bantamweight division, Farid Basharat will put his undefeated (10-0, 1-0 UFC) record on the line against Kleydson Rodriguez. Basharat — a Contender Series alum — won his UFC debut by defeating Da’Mon Blackshear via unanimous decision earlier this year at UFC 285: “Jones vs. Gane.” As for Rodriguez, he is 1-1 inside the Octagon, picking up his first win with the promotion thanks to a 59-second knockout win over Shannon Ross earlier this year. Both of these men came out of the Contender Series and both are looking to add some fresh blood to the mix in what is still a stacked 135-pound division.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
As we mentioned earlier, Zarah Fairn dos Santos has lost her first three fights inside the Octagon, putting her on the chopping block should she suffer her fourth straight defeat, especially if she loses to a newcomer in the form of Jacqueline Cavalcanti. Interestingly enough, those three fights for dos Santos came in the span four years, so she really hasn’t been fighting consistently enough to gain some sort of following, making it easier for UFC officials to justify a cut with another loss.
Interest Level: 6.5/10
In the co-main event of the evening, Rose Namajunas will make her highly-anticipated debut at 125 pounds after spending the majority of her career fighting as a Strawweight, winning the title in 2017 with a knockout win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and then again in 2021, knocking out the current champion, Zhang Weili. She defeated “Magnum” a second time seven months later, but after losing her title to Carla Esparza, Namajunas felt it was time for a change in weight classes.
Her first challenge won’t be an easy one because she she will be facing the No. 3-ranked fighter in the division in Fiorot, who is deeply eying a title shot with a win as she fights in her home town for the first time. Fiorot has won 10 in a row, including five in a row inside the Octagon, scoring wins over Jennifer Maia and Katlyn Chookagian along the way. Erin Blanchfield made a solid case for her title shot after defeating Taila Santos last weekend, her ninth straight win, so Fiorot wants to show she should be in the mix, as well. Defeating a former champion like Namajunas will go along way in complicating the lives of UFC matchmakers when deciding who gets the shot. But “Thug Rose” isn’t here to waste any time and thanks to her extensive history in title fights, she could toss her name in the hat, as well, if she earns the win in impressive fashion.
In the Lightweight division, Benoit Saint-Denis and Thiago Moises will throw down in what is a sure-fire, hard-hitting affair. Saint-Denis has finished his last three opponents, including his most recent win over Ismael Bonfim via neck crank earlier this year. Both of these men are nowhere to be seen in the Top 15 of the 155-pound division, so this is their opportunity to make a case for themselves near the top of a main card. This fight has all the making of “Fight of the Night” contender because they bring each and every time and they each have won that award before. The jiu-jitsu may cancel itself out here because it is their specialty, so this fight could very well be decided in a striking war.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC Paris Main Event On ESPN+:
265 lbs.: Ciryl Gane vs. Serghei Spivac
UFC Paris Main Card On ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Rose Namajunas vs. Manon Fiorot
155 lbs.: Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Thiago Moises
205 lbs.: Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov
145 lbs.: William Gomis vs. Yanis Ghemmouri — (not Lucas Almeida)
145 lbs.: Caolan Loughran vs. Taylor Lapilus (not Muin Gafurov)
UFC Paris Prelims Under Card On ESPN+ (12 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Morgan Charriere vs. Manolo Zecchini
135 lbs.: Nora Cornolle vs. Joselyne Edwards
170 lbs.: Ange Loosa vs. Rhys McKee
135 lbs.: Farid Basharat vs. Kleydson Rodrigues
140 lbs.: Jacqueline Cavalcanti vs. Zarah Fairn
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
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.