UFC Fight Night Paris was all we, as UFC fans, could have asked for it to be; here, I’ll dive deeper into my three favorite fights of the night.
Ciryl Gane vs Tai Tuivasa
The main event was one of the most exciting Heavyweight fights we have seen in a while, with a ton of back-and-forth action. Round one was a bit of a chess match with neither of the two competitors landing many powerful shots, but Gane was able to use his reach advantage to land strong jabs, and body kicks that I believe won him that round. In round two, it started as more of the same, with Gane landing at range and frustrating Tuivasa with his jabs and body kicks, but when Gane tried to close the distance, Tuivasa was able to land powerful shots of his own. One of which knocked Gane down to the mat. This sent the crowd into a frenzy as it looked like Tuivasa was about to win the fight, but Gane was able to get back to his feet and keep throwing. Gane later admitted in his post-fight interview that the punch Tuivasa landed shut his lights out, so he was lucky to escape the situation. The rest of round two was a firefight as both men exchanged heavy blows, with Gane getting the advantage in most exchanges, but the round could have been scored either way. In round three, both men picked up where they left off, exchanging powerful shots where each had their moments, but once Gane returned to delivering his body kicks, Tuivasa stood no chance. Once Gane stumbled Tuivasa with a sharp body kick, he threw a flurry of pouches ending in a left hook that finished off Tuivasa. As expected, the crowd shook the arena with their cheer for their hometown fighters’ win. Gane closed the night out by saying he wanted another shot at the belt.
Nassourdine Imavov vs Joaquin Buckley
A fight initially scheduled on the preliminary card, which we as fans knew should have been on the main card all along, proved exactly why. Even before the fight began, Imavov and Buckley were jawing and looked like they might throw down before the bell even rang. Throughout the fight, the crowd showed their support for Imavov, which seemed to motivate both men as Imavov embraced the crowd’s love while Buckley embraced the villain role. Imavov dominated the first two rounds; he landed more strikes while Buckley couldn’t seem to time his power shots. Imavov was also able to get the back of Buckley late into round two and was looking to finish the fight via rear naked choke. On multiple occasions, it looked as though he had it locked in, but Buckley persevered and survived to see the next round. In round three, Buckley listened to his corner when they told him he needed to finish this fight, as Buckley threw caution to the wind and came out firing. Imavov came out slow and looked as if he wasn’t ready for Buckley to still have this much left in the tank and was stuck playing defense throughout most of the round. Although in some moments during the round, it looked as if Buckley would have a chance to mount the comeback, Imavov was able to hold on and give the crowd another win to celebrate.
Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood
The UFC matchmakers knew what they were doing by putting this fight together and having it lead off the main card. We expected to see these two go toe-to-toe, and we were not disappointed. As someone who picked Charles Jourdain, I have to give all the credit in the world to Nathaniel Wood here; he fought this fight to perfection. He showed that he is an excellent striker by standing in the pocket with Jourdain and winning many of the exchanges. All while capitalizing on his wrestling advantage by using leg sweeps to get the fight down to the mat to mount some control time. Each fighter had their moments in round one, as Wood was able to use his leg sweeps early to get the takedown. Jourdain was able to get the fight back to the feet, where the two would each land some strikes of their own but it seemed Wood was able to win the round. A lot more striking occurred in round two, which made the round closer than the first, Jourdain was able to land solid body shots that earned him some points, but Wood continued to land his phone booth-style boxing punches and earned the round on two of the judges’ scorecards. Round three was where Wood sealed the deal; he was able to get the fight to the ground multiple times using leg sweeps and landed quicker strikes in the exchanges earning him an upset win over Charles Jourdain.