UFC Paris: Five Things We Learned
On Saturday, Sept 3. UFC Paris launched without a hitch. The UFC had its first card in France and the French crowd showed up in prime fashion. Even better, the fighters did too. Of the 12 fights, half were finished inside the distance. Out of the bouts that went to the scorecards, we saw several entertaining scraps. Most importantly, Ciryl Gane and Robert Whittaker put on clinics in the main and co-main events, respectively. Overall, UFC Paris taught us several lessons, so here are five things we learned during the event.
1. Ciryl Gane is not going anywhere
Ciryl Gane finished Tai Tuivasa in the third round at UFC Paris and he looked good doing it. Tuivasa did land a knockdown in round two so he did not pitch a perfect game, but that will happen when you are fighting one of the most powerful strikers in the division. Outside of that, Gane managed distance like an expert. He was able to get into range, land a strike, and get out of range. You cannot ask for much more than that. He also came in with a tremendous game plan that revolved around kicking Tuivasa’s body. This worked to perfection as he hurt Tuivasa with body shots frequently.
This bout proved that Gane will be in the upper portion of the heavyweight division for years. In his last bout, he fell to Francis Ngannou in his attempt to become the UFC champion. Against Tuivasa, he got the win he needed to retain his No. 1 rank. With that, he will be in serious consideration for fights against Stipe Miocic, Jon Jones, and Ngannou. Regardless, of how Gane’s future exactly pans out, he will likely sit inside the heavyweight top-five for several years.
2. Robert Whittaker is the second-best middleweight in the world
Depending on your outlook on life, being the second best at something may be great. For others, it may be heart-wrenching because they are not number one. No matter how Robert Whittaker views that, he is the second-best middleweight in the world. It is evident that no middleweight weight can stop the champion, Israel Adesanya. That leaves Whittaker at number two. At UFC Paris, he continued his trend of defeating everyone not named Adesanya. Whittaker picked Marvin Vettori apart for three rounds in a bout that did not feel like a close contest at the final horn. That moved Whittaker’s UFC middleweight record to 12-2. As you can guess, those two losses came to Adesanya. Whittaker is truly an elite talent that simply can crack the code against another remarkable fighter.
3. Nassourdine Imavov deserves an opportunity at middleweight
Nassourdine Imavov is currently ranked No. 12 in the UFC middleweight division. Next week, he will likely jump up a couple of spots when the rankings are updated. Regardless of what the number next to his name is next week, he deserves a big-time opportunity. Imavov continues to impress as he currently sits with a 4-1 UFC record. In his win over Joaquin Buckley at UFC Paris he displayed solid skills and an exciting style. This will provide some spark to the middleweight division that has seemed stale in the lower portion of the rankings. Imavov should be rewarded for his success with a top-ten matchup. As of right now, fights against Sean Strickland, Darren Till, and Jack Hermansson all make sense.
4. Joaquin Buckley will struggle to find long-term success at middleweight
I enjoy watching Joaquin Buckley fight. He is a powerful striker that gets in entertaining fights. I do not ask for much more. With that being said, if Buckley wants to be a high-level fighter in the UFC, he needs to entertain a move to welterweight, where is frame more aptly fits. Buckley is a short and stocky striker, which is not a great combination. The UFC has Buckley listed at 5-foot-10, but I honestly think he’s shorter. Sherdog has him listed at 5-foot-8 — my eyes tell me that is more accurate. I mean look at him in comparison to 6-foot-3 Imavov before their fight. This size difference usually results in Buckley throwing hook after hook that hits nothing but air as he punches up to his target. This issue caps Buckley’s potential. A move down to welterweight may be difficult, but his height would be more effective in that division.
5. Nathaniel Wood has found his weight class
Nathaniel Wood now has two fights under his belt at featherweight and it looks like he has found his home. Those two wins over Charles Rosa and Charles Jourdain have been impressive, with his win over the latter at UFC Paris standing out. Jourdain is one of the best-unranked fighters in the division and Wood defeated him handily. At one point, Wood was a hyped-up prospect. His nickname isn’t “The Prospect” for nothing. Now, it seems like Wood is looking to fulfill that potential as he has found the right weight class.