After a week off, the UFC returns this Labor Day weekend in Paris, France. In the Main Event, former UFC Interim Heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane takes on fan-favorite Tai Tuivasa. In the Co-Main Event, former Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker takes on the Italian Marvin Vettori for a possible title shot down the line.
Fight One: Ailin Perez (7-1) (+275) vs. Stephanie Egger (7-3) (-350)
Winner: Ailin Perez by Decision
To lead off UFC Fight Night Paris, we have a Women’s Featherweight matchup between UFC newcomer Ailin Perez and Stephanie Egger, who wants to avenge her last loss. Perez comes into her debut on a two-fight win streak, wins in four of her last five fights, and is looking to make a statement in her first UFC fight. In the other corner, we have Egger, who is coming off a submission loss in her last fight to Mayra Bueno Silva only three weeks ago and is looking to turn it around. This is a close fight, as I think both women will want to take this fight to the ground and try to work out their style of offense. Egger will be looking to find an opening for a submission while Perez will be trying to counter that with ground and pound, and eventually, I think Perez will get the better of her. I believe that since Egger is coming on very short notice and up a weight division, she might lose some of her speed. With Perez being over six years younger than Egger, she will most likely have the better cardio. Perez’s ground and pound offense will take a toll on Egge, eventually causing her to tire and lack the strength needed to submit Perez and allow for Perez to win a decision in her UFC debut.
Fight Two: Khalid Taha (13-4) (-140) vs. Cristian Quinonez (16-3) (+120)
Winner: Cristian Quinonez by Decision
In the Bantamweight division, UFC veteran Khalid Taha looks to bounce back after back-to-back losses in a fight against Dana White’s Contender Series standout Cristian Quinonez who is riding a four-fight win streak. This was a tough fight to pick as either man has a real possibility to win this fight. Ultimately I think it comes down to who has a more efficient game plan, and to me, that is Quinonez. Quinonez comes into this fight with the reach advantage, and I expect him to use it early to score points and avoid Taha’s powerful strikes. As Taha becomes more aggressive, Quinonez should look to level change and take the fight to the ground, where he has the advantage. If Quinonez executes on his advantages and avoids the close-distance exchanges with Taha, he should be able to coast to a decision victory.
Fight Three: Benoit Saint-Denis (9-1) (-200) vs. Gabriel Miranda (16-5) (+150)
Winner: Benoit Saint-Denis by Submission
Up next, Benoit Saint-Denis takes on newcomer Gabriel Miranda in a Lightweight clash. Saint-Denis comes into this fight 1-1 in his first two fights in the UFC with a loss in his debut to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and a win by submission in his last fight over Niklas Stolze and looks to do the same to Miranda and improve to 2-1 in the UFC. His opponent, Miranda, has other plans for his UFC debut and looks to carry his three-fight win streak into the UFC and start his UFC career with a win. This fight was relatively easy for me to play out when thinking about it. In one corner, you have a more experienced UFC fighter who is six years younger than his opponent and is coming off of a win while his opponent is making his debut in the Octagon. Saint-Denis will use his striking advantage for the first two rounds to out-point Miranda and land takedowns late in each round. Miranda will eventually gas out in the third, leaving Saint-Denis an opening for a takedown and submission to get his second UFC win.
Fight Four: Nassourdine Imavov (11-3) (-250) vs Joaquin Buckley (15-4) (+210)
Winner: Nassourdine Imavov by KO/TKO
Moving up the card, we have a Middleweight matchup between Nassourdine “Russian Sniper” Imavov, and Joaquin “New Mansa” Buckley, as Buckley looks to crack into the top 15. Imavov comes into this fight on a two-fight win streak with TKO victories over Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shabazyan, earning him the 12th ranking in the division, and he looks to climb higher. Buckley also comes in on a multi-fight win streak with wins over Antonio Arroyo, Abdul Razak Alhassan, and most recently Albert Duraev. A win over Imavov would secure him a spot in the rankings. This is very interesting for multiple reasons, both fighters come into this fight on a hot streak, so it’s hard to pick against either one, and Imavov is five inches taller than Buckley. Still, Buckley will have an inch of reach advantage. However, I still believe Imavov will win this fight despite the reach. Buckley likes to look for his knockout blow early. Imavov is skilled enough to avoid it and will land some quick strikes before taking to the fight in the later rounds, where he will eventually finish the fight with ground and pound and take home his third win in a row. Along with possibly a top 10 ranking.
Fight Five: Fares Ziam (12-4) (+165) vs Michal Figlak (8-0) (-200)
Winner: Michael Figlak by Decision
In the Lightweight division, French UFC veteran Fares Ziam looks to spoil the debut of Michal Figlak. Ziam is 2-2 since entering the UFC nearly three years ago; he is coming off of a loss in his last fight to the young star Terrance McKinney and is looking to rebound and get back above the .500 mark in the UFC. Flak comes into his UFC debut undefeated, with his latest win coming by way of a decision over Agy Sardari in Cage Warriors. He is looking to stay undefeated with a win over Ziam, and I believe he gets it done. Although Ziam holds the striking advantage and will look to keep the fight at range, I think Figlak can close the distance and use his grappling to win the fight. Flak should be able to get Ziam to the ground and control the pace of the fight for at least two of these rounds allowing him to stay undefeated and come home with a decision victory.
Fight Six: Dustin Stoltzfus (14-4) (+210) vs Abusupiyan Magomedov (24-4-1) (-260)
Winner: Abusupiyan Magomedov by Submission
In the featured preliminary bout, Middleweights Dustin Stoltzfus and Abusupiyan Magomedov go toe-to-toe as they look to make a name for themselves in the UFC. Stoltzfus comes into this fight off a win in his last fight only six weeks ago, where he won via decision over Dwight Grant and snapped a three-fight losing streak. Magomedov, who is making his debut inside the Octagon, has won his previous two fights but has not been in action for over 18 months, questioning whether his momentum will carry over. Stoltzfus proved me wrong in his last fight when I picked against him, so it seems risky for me to do it again, but I will, and I believe Magomedov gets the job done here. Although both fighters have relatively similar styles and skill sets, Stoltzfus’ susceptibility to submissions is what I think costs him this fight. I believe Stoltzfus will come in too aggressive on Magomedov, and Magomedov will use his level changes and land a takedown before finding an opening for a submission and stopping this fight relatively quickly.