UFC Paris Preview And Predictions
MMA was banned in France from 2016 to 2020. On Sept. 3, 2022, the UFC octagon will be in Paris for the first time in the organization’s history. The UFC took no liberties with UFC Paris as they bring a stacked card to France. The main and co-main events feature two bouts that will play a major role in each division’s title picture. With the card taking place in France, UFC fans in the United States will see the card start a little earlier than usual. The prelims will start at noon EST while the main card starts at 3 p.m. EST. Both will air on ESPN+. I am joined by Garrett Burroughs and Chris Chick as we break down and predict the main card. Our updated prediction records can be found below.
Charles Jourdain vs Nathaniel Wood- Featherweight
James: UFC Paris will start will a bang as Charles Jourdain takes on Nathaniel Wood. Jourdain is making a quick return to the UFC octagon as he fought Shane Burgos in July. In that fight, he found himself on the wrong side of that decision, but it was a close fight and he nearly finished Burgos in the third round. Thus far in his UFC career, Jourdain’s 4-4-1; however, he is far better than his record suggests. From a talent perspective, he is one of the best-unranked featherweights in the UFC. Wood is in a similar position to Jourdin as he too is making a quick turnaround after fighting in July. For Wood, his bout came against Charles Rosa which marked his featherweight debut. Before featherweight, his entire career took place at bantamweight. This jump-up was fruitful as he dominated Rosa for three rounds. That win moved Wood’s UFC record to an impressive 5-2.
This bout should be competitive and close. Jourdain and Wood are great strikers- that is where I expect this fight to take place. Both fighters have really good boxing and a good selection of kicks. The difference is Wood will kick more to the legs while Jourdain mixes his shots to all three levels. Jourdain holds more power in his hands, but Wood fights with slightly more volume. Overall, there are lots of reasons to like each fighter in this bout. The outlying factor here is Jourdain’s power. For that reason, I will take Jourdain by decision.
Garrett: Wood via TKO
Chick Jr: Jourdain via third-round TKO
William Gomis vs Jarno Errens- Featherweight
James: William Gomis and Jarno Errens will both make their UFC debut at UFC Paris. As both men are from France, this will add young French talent to the card. Errens is the elder of the two as he sits at 27 while Gomis is just 25. Gomis has also been slightly more successful on the regional scene as he sits with an MMA record of 10-2 while Errens is 13-3-1.
Gomis is pretty well-rounded for a 25-year-old fighter. On the feet, he is very quick and he has good length for the division. His striking repertoire consists of a lot of kicks. He definitely kicks more than he punches. He will also enter the clinch and look for body lock takedowns. When on the ground, he has good submissions but is not afraid to throw a lot of ground-and-pound. Errens will present Gomis with a clash in styles. Errens looks to get on the inside and land lunches to both the body and head. If he can crowd Gomis’ kicks and get inside he can find success. He also has great submissions off his back too which will help as Gomis takes the fight to the ground. The winner of this fight will be whoever can keep the fight in their comfort zone. I think that will be Gomis. He can stay on the outside and throw kicks and if Errens enters the pocket, Gomis can move into the clinch. I will take Gomis by decision.
Garrett: Errens via decision
Chick Jr: Gomis via second-round TKO
John Makdessi vs Hasrat Haqparast- Lightweight
James: John Makdessi and Hasrat Haqparast are scheduled to fight in an interesting lightweight bout. Haqparast has performed well under the UFC banner as he has gone 5-4. This record may not jump off the page but his losses have come to Dan Hooker, Bobby Green, Drew Dober, and Marcin Held. Held is the only fighter in this group that is not a highly successful UFC fighter and Haqparast fought him in his UFC debut. Makdessi is an established UFC veteran. He joined the promotion in 2010 and has worked to a UFC record of 11-7. Recently, Makdessi has gotten hot as he is 4-1 in his last five. The issue with Makdessi is that he is fairly inactive. Since 2017, he fought once each calendar year. On top of that, Makdessi will be the far older fighter as he is 37 while Haqparast is 27.
This fight is another bout that will largely take place on the feet. Makdessi has strong boxing and mixes in leg kicks. His striking is fairly simple- that is not a negative. He sticks to what is effective and sees positive results. Haqparast strikes in with boxing combinations. The difference here is that Haqparast has far better movement than Makdessi as he moves laterally well. As a result, he will be harder to hit. In a striking contest that will result in Haqparast landing strikes without getting hit. I will take Haqparast by decision.
Garrett: Haqparast via decison
Chick Jr: Makdessi via decision
Alessio Di Chirico vs Roman Kopylov- Middleweight
James: I do not know how Alessio Di Chirico and Roman Kopylov found themselves this high on a quality UFC Fight Night card. This fight screens prelim, but here we are. Di Chirico has been unable to find sustained success in the UFC as he has a 4-6 record in the promotion. This includes losses in four of his last five bouts. Kopylov was 8-0 upon his entry to the UFC, but he has gone 0-2 in the UFC. As much as it sucks to say, the loser of this bout may just find themselves cut from the UFC.
As far as styles go, Di Chirico has decent striking that includes some good kicks. He also likes to enter the clinch when things get close. Kopylov’s game is led by solid boxing combinations. On the regional scene, he displayed power too. At the UFC level, he has struggled to land those powerful strikes. At this point in their careers, Koplov has more room for growth as he is less experienced. With the recent string of losses for each fighter, improvements or changes have to be made and I think Koplov is more equipt to do that. I will take Koplov by decision.
Garrett: Kopylov via decision
Chick Jr: Kopylov via decision
#1 Robert Whittaker vs #2 Marvin Vettori- Middleweight
James: The co-main event of UFC Paris will see Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori compete to keep their name in the middleweight title picture. Both fighters are elite members of the division, but neither has been able to defeat the champion, Israel Adesanya. Whittaker became a UFC champion after he defeated Yoel Romero in 2017, but Adesanya took the belt from him in 2019. Earlier this year, Whittaker attempted to regain gold but was unsuccessful. In 2021, Vettori had a title opportunity against Adesanya but fell short. This was also his second loss to the champ. The first came before Adesanya’s title reign. Outside of fights with Adesanya, each fighter has been hyper-successful. Whittaker is one of the best fighters in the sport and has accrued an MMA record of 23-6 and a UFC record of 14-4. Vettori has an MMA record of 18-4-1 and a UFC record of 8-3-1. This is headlined by wins over Paulo Costa, Kevin Holland, and Jack Hermansson.
From a stylistic standpoint, this is an interesting fight. Vettori is mostly known for his grappling and ability to control his opponent. He is more than willing to impose by holding his opponent up against the fence to win a decision. In his most recent fight against Paulo Costa, he looked better on the feet. He seemed to make improvements in both the offensive and defensive elements of striking. However, Whittaker will be the far more technical striker in this bout. On top of that, he has strong takedown defense. Against Vettori, that will be crucial. One aspect of fighting that is not talked about enough is fight IQ. That is something Whittaker excels at. In most of his fights, he comes in with a great game plan that he adapts throughout a fight. I think technical striking, takedown defense, and fight IQ will lead Whittaker to a decision victory.
Garrett: Whittaker via submission
Chick Jr: Whittaker via second-round TKO
#1 Ciryl Gane vs #3 Tai Tuivasa- Heavyweight
James: The main event of UFC Paris sees Ciryl Gane take on Tai Tuivasa. This is a fitting main event as Gane is by far the most successful French-born fighter in MMA history. If that is not enough, this fight will be massively important for the UFC heavyweight division. That is expected as Gane sits as the number No. 1 ranked heavyweight while Tuivasa sits at No. 3. However, with the current state of the division, the winner will be in title talks alongside the current champion Francis Ngannou, and legends Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic.
This fight is an interesting one. After beating Derrick Lewis at UFC 271, Tuivasa established himself as a top-five heavyweight. His skill set largely revolves around his knockout power. He is right up there with Ngannou and Lewis as the most powerful heavyweights on the roster. Outside of his power, Tuivasa is one of the most underrated strikers from the clinch. From that position, he throws great elbows that deal a lot of damage. On the other hand, Gane is one of the most technical strikers in the division and his game is rounded out by good wrestling and submission skills. When predicting this fight I ask, will Tuivasa knock out Gane? Of Tuivasa’s 14 career wins, 13 have come by KO. That is largely how he wins fights. My answer to that question is no. Gane should be able to avoid the knockout shot. He completed that task against Ngannou and Lewis. Gane should be able to stay on the outside and technically break down Tuivasa. Plus, if he needs to he can look to utilize wrestling as that is one of Tuivasa’s biggest weaknesses. I will take Gane by decision.
Garrett: Gane via submission
Chick Jr: Tuivasa via second-round TKO