UFC returns to France on Saturday for only the second time in the promotion’s history. Ciryl Gane must overcome wrestler Serghei Spivac at UFC Fight Night in Paris in his pursuit of a third UFC heavyweight title shot.
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Gane (11-2) is an athletic marvel and one of the best pure strikers at heavyweight, but his takedown defense has failed him when it’s mattered most. The French fighter has lost two heavyweight title fights: a close decision to Francis Ngannou and a lopsided submission to Jon Jones. Gane gave up six of seven takedowns between those two fights. Gane has the opportunity to shore up that weakness against Spivac, the most accurate takedown threat in UFC heavyweight history. With a renewed focus on training, Gane is determined to send a message that “I’m still here, I want to go back to the belt.”
“All of my career, I was in a rush,” Gane told reporters at media day on Wednesday. “I started MMA in 2018 and I did my first fight just after six months. Since this fight, I was already in a rush until today. So, yes, I want to take my time now. I want to take my time at the gym.
“I don’t need to take my time between two fights, I need more time. No, it’s about that. I need to manage my schedule without all the things you have around the fight, and like that, we’re going to have time.”
No one in heavyweight history lands takedowns more reliably than Spivac (16-3). His 65.9% is not for a lack of trying or dumb luck. Spivac averages more than five takedowns per 15 minutes inside the Octagon. Despite a perceived advantage in Gane’s weakest area, Spivac is not taking the challenge lightly as he pursues a fourth consecutive win. Defeating Gane would be the biggest win of Spivac’s career and puts the Moldovan fighter as close to UFC gold as he’s ever been.
“It’s really hard to go to fight. He is in first place in the UFC. He has good results in the UFC,” Spivac told RMC Sports. “These [people] talk shit. Ciryl needs to be focused on his life. This is not important for him.”
UFC’s second Paris card also welcomes Rose Namajunas to the women’s flyweight division for the first time. The former UFC women’s strawweight champion made the unexpected move up a weight class to fight one of the division’s top contenders, France’s Manon Fiorot.
“With more weight behind the other person, it’s always going to mean you need to be on your Ps and Qs even more,” Namajunas told CBS Sports this week. “Moving up in weight, I always looked at as being a bigger challenge because it forces you to be a better mixed martial artist. I have to make sure that I’m good in all areas, like I’m strong, I’m fit but I’m also good [with] technique and strategy. I think it just requires a little more out of you to move up in weight.”
Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Ciryl Gane -175||Serghei Spivac +150||Heavyweight|
|Manon Fiorot -200||Rose Namajunas +170||Women’s flyweight|
|Benoit Saint-Denis -160||Thiago Moises +135||Lightweight|
|Volkan Oezdemir -180||Bogdan Guskov +155||Light heavyweight|
|William Gomis -225||Yanis Ghemmouri +185||Featherweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: Sept. 2 | Start time: 3 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: Accor Arena – Paris
TV channel: ESPN+
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Ciryl Gane vs. Sergei Spivac: It is easy to understand why the oddsmakers have the lines so close. Spivac is the less credentialed fighter, but his bread and butter is Gane’s Achilles heel. Still, Spivac is missing a few elements that made Ngannou and Jones such formidable foes. Ngannou is a physical freak of nature and Jones is arguably the greatest fighter this sport has ever seen. Spivac does not have the same level of athleticism as the other three men. He also lacks the quality striking to set up his takedowns and his entries leave something to be desired.
I’ve been a big believer in Gane and it’s clouded my judgment before, but he’s one major improvement away from being an absolute nightmare. Gane possesses fantastic footwork, movement, technical striking and a Muay Thai background that makes him dangerous at every range. If he can round out his offensive and defensive wrestling, he could be a world-beater. It’s in Gane’s best interest to keep the fight at range. If Spivac ties him up, Gane might consider using his Muay Thai background to land an elbow or two before breaking free. The more Gane can fend off his foe, the more desperate or timid Spivac will become. It’s also worth noting that two of Spivac’s three career losses come via first-round knockout. Gane via KO2