The UFC returns from a two week break to make history with the companies first ever card from Paris, France.
The historic card is headlined by hometown heavyweight favourite Ciryl Gane, as he takes on fan favourite and knockout artist Tai Tuivasa in the main event.
The co-main will also see two world class middleweight contenders go head-to-head too as Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori clash in a potential title eliminator.
Last time out at UFC 278 we saw an amazing card, where we landed 7/12 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 705/1094 (64.51%) with 298 perfect picks (42.26%). You can see our full picks history here.
Charles Jourdain (13-5-1) vs Nathaniel Wood (18-5) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
A super fun fight and potentially the fight of the night. Jourdain suffered a defeat to Shane Burgos in his last bout back in June, snapping a two fight win streak. Wood alternatively returned to the Octagon at UFC London after nearly two years out with a brilliant performance, earning him a decision win over Charles Rosa.
Jourdain and Wood are very similar fighters and that should make this a fantastic fight. Jourdain is a relentless fighter with powerful strikes and a fantastic gas tank, who is comfortable on the mat if the fight goes to the ground too. Wood is an excellent kickboxer with brilliant range management and solid wrestling techniques too, making him an all-round threat.
This will be really difficult to call. Jourdain is cutting weight for a second time in six weeks which could have an effect on his style, while Wood looked as sharp as ever last time out. He’s about the right size for the division and his range management and calf kicks could really help in keeping Jourdain at distance to maintain control. He’s also got the takedown threat, something Jourdain has struggled with and that leads me to think he can claim an entertaining win as the underdog.
PICK – Nathaniel Wood via Decision
William Gomis (10-2) vs Jarno Errens (13-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Two UFC debutants fight each other on the main card of this card. Gomis is on an eight-fight win streak, with his most recent coming with a third-round KO back in June. Errens earned a decision win less than a month ago and steps into this fight on short notice.
Gomis is a fantastic striker with a great arsenal of attacks, mixing up boxing combinations and kicks to go with lateral movement and great knockout power. Errens has got some decent boxing techniques too, while his submission skills have earned him five tap out wins in his career to date. This bout is a question of which version of Gomis steps up in reality.
If the really good version shows up, then he should run rings around Errens with his technique and power while trying to put a show on for his home nation fans. If it’s the version who looks for highlight finishes rather than fighting properly and backs himself against the cage then he’ll have a tough night. Obviously it’s impossible to know before the fight, but logic tells you to go with the best version of both guys in this one and that means Gomis gets a dominant win and probably finishes it in style.
PICK – William Gomis via Knockout, Round 2
John Makdessi (18-7) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
An interesting lightweight scrap between two guys trying to make waves in the division. Makdessi has won four of his last five fights, with a win over Ignacio Bahamondes most recently at UFC Vegas 23 over a year ago. Haqparast has lost his last two against Dan Hooker (UFC 266) and Bobby Green (UFC 271) and will be keen to get back to winning ways.
Makdessi is a talented striker with unorthodox kicks and spinning attacks as part of his weaponry, but with a picture perfect jab arguably his best shot. Haqparast is also a brilliant striker, with a traditional boxing approach meaning his jab is sensational and he also packs great power to claim nine knockout wins in his career. Neither fighter is big on wrestling so this is likely to stay on the feet and that favours the younger southpaw, Haqparast.
The German knows how to smother his opponents lead hand and counter with a powerful left cross, and Makdessi’s game falls right into that trap. Both will jab a lot but when they counter each other and look for the kill-shot, it’s Haqparast who will land first and harder so I expect him to get a stoppage win midway through the fight.
PICK – Nasrat Haqparast via Knockout, Round 2
Alessio Di Chirico (13-6) vs Roman Kopylov (8-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A weird middleweight scrap up next between two heavy hitters. Di Chirico earned a memorable head-kick win over Joaquin Buckley at UFC Fight Island 7, but has lost the other four of his last five including his most recent fight against Abdul Razak Alhassan where he got KO’d in 17 seconds. Kopylov has lost his last two fights too, getting submitted in 2019 by Karl Roberson and then losing a decision to Albert Duraev at UFC 267 most recently.
Di Chirico is a bog standard striker with some okay takedowns and wrestling to go with it, while Kopylov is a good volume striker with lots of power and variety and some decent takedown defence. There is absolutely no reason for this fight to be on the main card, but the fact it is means the UFC expect something to happen. I don’t.
There will likely be quite a lot of stalemates against the cage as Di Chirico looks to close the distance and get the fight down, while Kopylov defends it with little striking in between. In the gaps Kopylov is likely to land good combinations and that should be enough for a judge’s decision, but this will be a great time to go for snacks or something.
PICK – Roman Kopylov via Decision
Robert Whittaker (24-6) vs Marvin Vettori (18-5-1) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
A top level middleweight scrap up next. Whittaker 3-2 in his last five, with both defeats coming to Israel Adesanya in title fights (UFC 271). His wins were all via decision, where he dominated Darren Till (UFC Fight Island 3), Jared Cannonier (UFC 254) and Kelvin Gastelum. Vettori six of his last eight, with his two defeats also coming to Adesanya, with a title fight ending in defeat at UFC 263. He’s beaten Karl Roberson (UFC Vegas 2), Jack Hermansson (UFC Vegas 16), Kevin Holland (UFC Vegas 23) and most recently Paulo Costa.
Whittaker is arguably the best kickboxer in the UFC outside of Israel Adesanya, but he is also a brilliant wrestler and his dynamic movement make him a horror match up for anyone in the division. Vettori has got incredible cardio and uses that to over power his opposition with wrestling takedown attempts, and then smothering them from top position. The game plan will be clear here. Whittaker wants to stand and strike, Vettori wants the takedown.
I’m a big fan of Vettori even though he can be pretty boring to watch, but I’m a firm believer that Whittaker is the best in the world behind Adesanya and there’s a big gap between them and the rest. Whittaker’s pace, ability to mix it up and perfect technique when striking should see him do enough to claim a decision win as usual.
PICK – Robert Whittaker via Decision
Ciryl Gane (10-1) vs Tai Tuivasa (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
An absolute banger in the heavyweight division is the main event of this card. Ciryl Gane returns to the octagon for the first time since January, where he lost a title fight against Francis Ngannou via decision at UFC 270. His last win came at UFC 265 where he knocked out Derrick Lewis. Tuivasa is on an amazing roll, winning five in a row all by knockout against Stefan Struve (UFC 254), Harry Hunsucker (UFC Vegas 21), Greg Hardy (UFC 264), Augusto Sakai (UFC 269) and Derrick Lewis (UFC 271).
Gane is a tremendous fighter who is arguably the most well-rounded heavyweight fighter in the world outside of Jon Jones (maybe). His kicks are fantastic, he has good boxing and his wrestling is good too. He also possesses great cardio and some submission skills, making him a threat wherever the fight goes. Tuivasa on the other hand is a straight up brawler. He has got excellent leg kicks and dynamite in both hands, but he hasn’t been past the second round since losing to Blagoy Ivanov in 2019. This is a very similar match up to what people believed Gane vs Ngannou was, just on a different level.
“Bon Gamin” is likely to use his reach and kicks to dominate from the outside, bouncing around to avoid the heavy hands of Tuivasa. The difference from this fight to the title fight is that Tuivasa’s cardio is less reliable and he doesn’t have the new wrestling chops that Ngannou had to overpower him to the ground. Gane will take his time and wear Tuivasa out, before pouring it on late for a stoppage in his hometown.
PICK – Ciryl Gane via Knockout, Round 3