On Saturday, the mixed martial arts leader returned for its latest event, UFC Fight Night: Ciryl Gane vs. Serghei Spivac.
After taking the Octagon to South East Asia for another trip to Singapore last weekend, the organization was back in France for its second show in the capital city, Paris.
Like last year’s inaugural card in the European nation, home favorite Gane figured on the poster and made the walk in the main event. Having knocked out Tai Tuivasa just under a year ago, “Bon Gamin” was looking to repeat that feat at the expense of Serghei Spivac.
Intrigue was also high in the co-headliner, which saw former two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas make her long-awaited comeback in a new division. “Thug Rose” debuted at flyweight against #3-ranked contender Manon Fiorot, who was looking to exceed the recent performance of rival Erin Blanchfield.
With the likes of ex-light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, lightweight prospect Benoît Saint-Denis, Cage Warriors titleholders Rhys McKee and Caolán Loughran, and notable local fighters like Morgan Charriere and Taylor Lapilus competing, the second edition of UFC Paris looked set to deliver some entertaining action.
But did that come to fruition? Let’s find out with all the positives and negatives from UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Spivac.
Today's FULL #UFCParis lineup 🤩
Full card live on ESPN+ starting at 12:30pmET / 9:30amPT 📺 pic.twitter.com/MP8RQAucvV
— UFC (@ufc) September 2, 2023
Positive – Foule Française
Is there a better crowd in mixed martial arts than the group of combat enthusiasts who took to the Accor Arena?
This past May, I was in the “City of Love” for Bellator 296. On that night, I was impressed with the atmosphere, which was deafening when local favorite Thibault Gouti knocked out Kane Mousah in the main card opener.
With that said, I can only imagine the feeling inside that arena on Saturday. From the sound on the broadcast and clips on social media, it wouldn’t be a stretch to place the UFC Paris crowd among the best ever seen.
That fact was already clear last year, when Gane and Tuivasa even took a moment to acknowledge the singing during their back-and-forth headliner at the first ever France-held UFC event.
Second time around, however, the Parisians managed to turn it up another notch.
The Paris crowd are in some voice. pic.twitter.com/LEUJ5yvtrC
— Oscar Willis (@oscarswillis) September 2, 2023
It’s incredible to think that the sport of MMA was illegal in the European country until 2020. For years, fans had been deprived of the chance to witness MMA live in the flesh. Now, an abundance of promotions are staging events on French soil, from the UFC and Bellator to Hexagone MMA and ARES FC.
If Saturday’s event proved anything, it’s that the long MMA-deprived fans are showing no signs of fatigue.
Positive – Ferocious
The bantamweight division has long boasted one of the most exciting and talent-filled rosters in MMA — and that trend does not look set to slow down anytime soon…
Among the leading prospects at 135 pounds right now are Umar Nurmagomedov, Mario Bautista, Christian Rodriguez, Rinya Nakamura, and Cameron Saaiman. There’s also a pair of brothers in the Basharats, one of whom further elevated his stock in Paris.
While his brother Javid broke through on the sport’s biggest stage first, Farid has been hot on his tail as the Afghan siblings pursue dominance inside the Octagon.
After extending his undefeated record on debut with a decision win over Da’Mon Blackshear, “Ferocious” displayed his finishing capabilities to a UFC audience for the first time on Saturday by submitting the highly touted Kleydson Rodriguez via arm-triangle choke in one round.
The first fight of the night saw raucous French fans silenced by a lackluster performance from one of their compatriots. The second saw them witness one of the sport’s top up-and-comers thriving again.
Farid Basharat remains undefeated and gets his first UFC finish via arm triangle in the round 1! #UFCParis pic.twitter.com/lQmGhl9wV3
— MMANews (@mmanews_com) September 2, 2023
Negative – Faux
I’m often pretty lenient when it comes to criticizing judges and their scorecards — after all, it’s impossible not to have a level of subjectivity in a sport like MMA and most of the time I see justification.
The work of one Christophe Chapuis, however, warrants a word.
During the UFC Paris preliminary card, Cage Warriors standout Rhys McKee made an unsuccessful return to the promotion, falling to a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Ange Loosa.
Was the Irishman soundly beaten? Yes. Did he do enough to win a round? Certainly. After a difficult first two frames, McKee threatened to complete an almighty comeback in the dying moments of the fight, appearing to come close to finishing Loosa late on.
In a round that, up to that point, had lacked notable effective offense, the Irish prospect’s work was enough to earn him a consolation round. Two of the best judges in the game, David Lethaby and Darryl Ransom, acknowledged that with scores of 29-28 in favor of Loosa.
The local judge did not…
Ultimately, the incorrect verdict had no impact on the result. In that sense, no harm done. But obvious errors are always a concern moving forward.
#UFCParis Official Judges Scorecards: Ange Loosa (@LoosaAnge) vs Rhys McKee
See every scorecard here ➡️: https://t.co/LGdoTq1DyX pic.twitter.com/xOZw2qywvy
— UFC News (@UFCNews) September 2, 2023
Positive – Liver King
Let it be known, the “Liver King” is not thou who uses anabolic steroids to fool the masses, it is thou who obliterates the organ with kicks. That throne is now occupied by Morgan Cherriere.
While a host of notable debutants featured on Saturday’s card, arguably the most exciting was the arrival of “The Last Pirate,” who entered the spotlight after stringing together some impressive results under the Cage Warriors banner and gaining a sizable following.
In front of his home fans, Cherriere delivered a fast, explosive, and memorable finish, stopping fellow newcomer Manolo Zecchini with a series of truly brutal kicks to the body.
We’ve seen some vicious body-shot knockouts in recent times, but not many have come more emphatic than the Frenchman’s exploits inside the cage in Paris.
We’ve had “The Last Samurai” and “The Last Emperor.” Is now the time of “The Last Pirate?”
NASTY KICKS FROM MORGAN CHARRIERE 😮💨 #UFCParis pic.twitter.com/hXpr82tLJM
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 2, 2023
Negative – Complete Mess
UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Spivac had many things, from memorable debuts to thrilling finishes. Unfortunately, it also had one of the worst officiating calls/moments/mistakes/confusions — whatever the hell you want to call it — of all time.
On the main card, William Gomis walked away with a victory over his fellow countryman Yanis Ghemmouri. As far as wins go, though, not many have come with a bigger asterisk attached…
At the halfway point of round three, Gomis threw and landed a kick. Ghemmouri immediately grabbed his cup and turned away, assuming a pause in the action was incoming. Rather than a pause, he turned to find an ending.
With referee Loic Pora deeming the kick to have landed to the body, the fight was waved off and “Jaguar” took home a TKO triumph. But if there’s ever a result worthy of overturning, it’s this one.
The kick clearly landed low, in spite of Michael Bisping’s bizarre insistence that the kick connected to the belt line — as if it can’t simultaneously hit the cup. We’ve had a number of similar moments in recent weeks, with Joe Rogan in particular wrongly questioning low blow calls.
It should really be simple: any connection to the cup, even if it’s a graze from the heel as the toes hit the midsection, should be a low blow. Otherwise, we’re left judging how bad a fighter’s balls are hurting… Is that a level of subjectivity the sport needs?
Image: Per Haljestam/USA TODAY Sports
I will offer one defense for the official.
While I believe he could have handled things better, he did make his belief that the strike was legal quite clear by repeatedly yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” At that point, Ghemmouri continued to turn and walk away. With that in mind, my level of sympathy for the debutant does decrease.
Ultimately, however, I’m not sure waving the fight off was the smart move in that scenario, and the decision to do so left us with controversy and the Accor Arena with a less than satisfied crowd.
Positive – Back To His Best
Given the manner of his loss to Jon Jones this past March, the pressure was on for Ciryl Gane in the UFC Paris main event. You wouldn’t have known it though.
Gane’s matchup with Serghei Spivac appear to draw split views. While some saw it as a risk that could have culminated in the Frenchman suffering a similar defeat against another grappling specialist, others branded it an opportunity for “Bon Gamin” to display the kind of gameplan he self-admittedly abandoned against “Bones” in Las Vegas.
Ultimately, the former interim champion did the latter, providing a masterclass in distance management and calculated striking — skills that he’s used to dismantle everyone other than Jones and Francis Ngannou.
In front of his compatriots, Gane set up the finish with vicious knees, hooks, and straight shots to the body, before landing one notable clubbing right hand that broke through his Moldovan counterpart’s defenses. From there, an onslaught of shots forced Marc Goddard’s intervention.
It’s clear that “Bon Gamin” is one of the UFC’s best heavyweights, and seemingly the clear leader in the striking realm. To see him bounce back in style and set up future bouts with the likes of Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich was a positive for not just the division, but the fans as well.
BON GAMIN DOES IT AGAIN!@Ciryl_Gane with another knockout in a #UFCParis main event 👊🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/sZgOs3cdEp
— UFC (@ufc) September 2, 2023
Read Also: UFC Fight Night Results & Highlights: Ciryl Gane TKO’s Serghei Spivac