The Octagon makes its way to France for the first time ever, as a pair of Aussies headline the top two fights on the card; both looking to stamp championship claims in their respective divisions.
Ciryl Gane (10-1) vs Tai Tuivasa (14-3)
Ciryl Gane has had an immediate impact since arriving in the UFC, racking up a 7-1 record, with his sole loss coming against Francis Ngannou at UFC 270, when fighting for the Heavyweight championship. Aside from his last fight, he has handled all of his opponents with relative ease, due to his pinpoint striking and agility.
After losing three in a row in 2018/2019, Tuivasa has gone on a tear throughout the 265lb division, winning his last five fights on end, all by the way of KO/TKO. He was ultra impressive at UFC 271 when knocking out the ultra-durable Derrick Lewis with a brutal standing elbow.
This fight will be dictated by Gane’s willingness to engage. He is a very methodical striker, often choosing to pick apart his opponents from distance and moving in and out of the pocket, which makes him hard to hit.
Tuivasa is usually a lot more aggressive, coming out of the gates swinging and looking for that fight ending shot early on. But knowing Gane has him for size and reach, we may see a slightly more passive approach from “Bam Bam.”
I don’t think this is going to be an often seen Heavyweight slugfest and as such, the overs looks the play here.
Rob Whittaker (23-6) vs Marvin Vettori (18-5-1)
Both fighters hold something in common here, with their last two losses both coming at the hands of UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. The winner of this bout might find themselves lining up for a trilogy fight.
Since being on the receiving end of a brutal KO loss at UFC 243, Whittaker built himself back up with wins against three of the best opponents the 185lb division has to offer. He came agonisingly close to beating Adesanya in their second fight at UFC 271 and if he wins tonight, he may get the opportunity for a third shot at the champion.
After losing to Adesanya at UFC 263, Vettori was dominant in his victory against Paulo Costa in October of last year. Vettori used a volume heavy striking strategy to overwhelm and smother his opponent, on his way to an Unanimous Decision victory.
Neither fighter here is really known for their ability to finish a fight. Whittaker looks to hold the advantages in both striking and grappling and especially with this being a three round fight, “The Reaper ” should be getting his hand raised courtesy of a judges decision.