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UFC Paris takeaways — Ciryl Gane provides a masterclass, Robert Whittaker reminds how harmful he’s at 185

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What have been the largest moments at UFC Paris? Jeff Wagenheim, Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi supply up their takeaways from a highlight-packed occasion in France.

For the primary eight minutes of Saturday’s UFC important occasion in Paris, you possibly can have match the Arc de Triomphe within the house between Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa. That is the way in which Gane wished it. For a spherical and a half, he was displaying off why he is thought-about essentially the most technical heavyweight striker on the planet. With the Frenchman controlling distance whereas touchdown crisp jabs to the face and kicks to the physique, Tuivasa saved coming ahead and throwing large punches however could not contact Gane.

Then Tuivasa did discover him with a winging right-hand halfway via Spherical 2, and Gane fell backward to the canvas, stiffened.

“Truthfully, Tai hit me so exhausting he knocked me out. He put the lights out,” Gane stated via an interpreter. “I fell down, however I needed to be a warrior. I bought up … and I got here again even stronger.”

That he did, as Gane instantly went on the assault, closing distance and throwing every little thing he had. Now Tuivasa was the one on retreat, because the physique photographs have been visibly taking their toll. The spherical ended with Gane on the offensive and the gang at Accor Enviornment roaring. The battle was on.

It will not final one other spherical, although. Gane spent Spherical 3 mercilessly attacking Tuivasa’s tender midsection, and whereas the Australian fighter remained harmful, Gane was not preventing from distance. Within the closing minute of the spherical, he landed a crushing proper uppercut that put his opponent on wobbly legs, then floored him with a succession of lefts earlier than referee Marc Goddard jumped in to finish it at 4:23.

This was a massively profitable Paris debut for the UFC, partly as a result of two of its prime heavyweights placed on a stirring efficiency by which each had their moments — though the one preventing in his hometown had much more large moments than the opposite.

Past that, Gane and Tuivasa confirmed martial arts spirit at its finest. There was no dangerous blood. They smiled at one another all through, which by no means bought in the way in which of them making an attempt to knock out the opposite. It was a deal with for the followers, who sang loudly via the opening spherical and appreciated what they have been witnessing.

And what was that? The Parisian followers have been watching their 32-year-old countryman emphatically getting again on observe following his solely profession defeat, a five-round resolution in opposition to UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in January. This victory places Gane proper again within the title image, though it is a crowded image with Jon Jones having the within observe to the champ. The Frenchman’s day will come (once more), although, and after watching this chic efficiency, I can not wait till it does.

And if Ngannou, who used to coach in Paris, remains to be in possession of the belt when Gane’s subsequent championship alternative comes, I hope they maintain the title battle within the Metropolis of Lights. — Wagenheim


‘They’ve to return again’: Paris places UFC on discover with an epic efficiency

PARIS — Benoit Saint-Denis needed to pull himself collectively. He was the primary French-born fighter to stroll out on the UFC’s first card in his residence nation and entered Accor Enviornment to a hero’s welcome.

By the point Saint-Denis competed, the constructing was full and it was solely the third battle of the night. The followers have been on their toes, chanting his identify and treating him like one of many sport’s largest superstars.

In the course of the first spherical, as Saint-Denis was slinging leather-based with opponent Gabriel Miranda, a rumble got here up from the stands that was borderline scary. It did not find yourself being ominous – it was simply the collective sound of greater than 15,405 stomping and clapping in help of their hometown UFC star.

“It felt a bit like a online game, the primary minute of the battle,” Saint-Denis stated. “It is large. The environment. It is troublesome in your mind to just accept that each one these guys are cheering for you. You must focus on the [opponent], as a result of clearly you could have a job to do. That is what counts.”

Saint-Denis stated when Miranda took him down within the first spherical, he snapped out of the daze. Simply 16 seconds into the second spherical, Saint-Denis dropped Miranda and completed him with a flurry on the bottom – because the followers right here turned unhinged with pleasure. It was as if Saint-Denis was Conor McGregor, Muhammad Ali and Rocky Balboa all rolled into one, somewhat than a 26-year-old prospect in simply his third UFC battle.

Fares Ziam, William Gomis, Nassourdine Imavov and Ciryl Gane additionally bought the royal therapy. Ziam stated the “power” of the gang willed him out of an armbar and a nasty place when Michal Figlak took his again. The group roared when Gomis escaped a deep triangle from Jarno Errens within the third spherical and gained a call.

After which there was Gane. The group popped large throughout his walkout and the loudest it was all evening (as much as that time) was the primary spherical, cheering Gane’s identify and singing the French nationwide anthem in unison. When Gane knocked out Tuivasa within the third spherical, it whipped the followers into an unbelievable frenzy. There was cheering, dancing, singing and leaping round, and a few followers seemed like they have been on the verge of tears. The environment was unmatched in MMA, save for some unreal playing cards in Eire and England over time. Possibly.

“No person on the planet anticipated this from the followers of France,” Gane stated in his postfight interview. “However bro, take a look at this. I am so joyful.”

The stands have been about 75% full for the primary battle and loaded with power, a stark distinction to Las Vegas UFC reveals which do not begin filling up till the principle card begins. And the one cause why the gang wasn’t totally of their seats for the primary bout in UFC France historical past was that many have been nonetheless ready on lengthy traces exterior.

The UFC arrange a cell UFC Retailer to the aspect of Accor Enviornment, adjoining to an enormous “UFC” signal and steps painted with the likenesses of Gane, Francis Ngannou, Georges St-Pierre and French ladies’s flyweight contender Manon Fiorot.

Berny Tamayo, born and raised in Paris, was close to these outsized UFC letters earlier than the occasion, taking images and assembly up with associates. Tamayo, sporting a Valentina Shevchenko battle package (his favourite fighter) and a Nate Diaz hoodie, stated he has been a UFC fan for ten years. But, he wasn’t certain if the promotion would ever maintain an occasion in his hometown because the sport was unlawful in France till 2020.

“I stated, ‘I must be right here – it doesn’t matter what, irrespective of the associated fee,'” Tamayo stated when he discovered about UFC Paris. “It is so necessary. For us, it is every little thing.

“We have to present Dana White that Paris is the place in Europe for UFC reveals.”

Simply on a 10-minute stroll to the Accor Enviornment via the Bercy space, you cross the Nihon Judo dojo and the Crew Zeitoun Thai boxing health club. France has lengthy been a sizzling spot for judo, karate and Muay Thai. And now it appears primed to be a brand new go-to spot for MMA, particularly after Saturday evening.

“I do not see every other possibility for [the UFC],” Saint-Denis stated. “They’ve to return again and again and again. Like they do London.” — Raimondi


Robert Whittaker is among the finest fighters on the planet

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Robert Whittaker grabs the win by way of resolution over Marvin Vettori in convincing vogue. (edited)

You realize what? I really like my ESPN colleagues, and I feel we do some terrific work on this sport at ESPN. However I’ve bought to take them to job for a minute. You guys want to indicate some respect for Robert Whittaker. In ESPN’s present pound-for-pound rankings, solely two of the six voters have Whittaker contained in the High 10. Going into this battle, I had him at No. 7, the highest-ranked non-champion on my listing.

I feel some individuals are sleeping how particular of a fighter Whittaker is. This former champion is 12-2 since shifting as much as middleweight, and his solely two losses have come in opposition to a generational expertise in Israel Adesanya. And after they fought the newest time, two judges gave Whittaker two of 5 rounds in opposition to Adesanya. What he is doing is large. It is not as spectacular as what Adesanya has accomplished, but it surely deserves recognition and to be valued for what it’s.

I really like that in his post-fight speech on Saturday, he maintained that he is all the time gunning for that No. 1 spot and that he’ll all the time be “lurking” at 185. There have been some headlines earlier this week a couple of potential transfer to mild heavyweight, however I hope that does not occur. Whittaker is world class as a middleweight — and belt or no belt, I respect the extent of greatness he is acting at. — Okamoto


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