PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST 30: (L-R) Ciryl Gane of France and Tai Tuivasa of Australia face off during a UFC photocall at Les Bassins du Champ de Mars on August 30, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Home country hero Ciryl Gane will be looking to display some new wrinkles in her game as her bid to return to form culminates in a fight with exciting prospect turned contender Tai Tuivasa at UFC Paris.

It’s easy to forget where Ciryl Gane was ahead of her fight against Francis Ngannou for the heavyweight title in January. “Bon Gamin” entered the fight undefeated and searched the world for the next generation of MMA big men after unraveling Derrick Lewis, Alexander Volkov, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Junior dos Santos. He entered the UFC in 2019 after just three professional fights, but quickly proved that experience was far from the only important factor in winning as his winning streak propelled him to a belt shot .

Gane enters the fight in his home country at an interesting time in the history of the heavyweight division. The popular and rising champion is set to become a free agent at the end of this year and it’s a real possibility that he could take some time off to pursue his boxing riches. That would leave it up to the UFC to decide what to do with the title and it could open the door for Gane to quickly return to a title fight. If he also demonstrates an effort to improve his grappling, he’ll also be able to sell the script he’s turned into the all-around force he looked like last year.

Tai Tuivasa went from top prospect to bona fide title contender. The hard-hitting Aussie has gone from being knockout legend Mark Hunt’s main training partner to a bona fide UFC star in his own right. A part of the UFC since 2014, Tuivasa opened his Octagon career with back-to-back wins before losses to dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov and Sergey Spivak chilled his ambitions. But “Bam Bam” quickly returned to the drawing board, and his renewed sense of confidence coupled with his fine-tuned training led to one of the most thrilling streaks in all of MMA.

Tuivasa entered 2020 with the kind of friendly personality that quickly caught on with fans after associating him with thrilling knockouts. With a shoe and a beer in hand quickly after each performance, he hijacked Greg Hardy, Augusto Sakai and Derrick Lewis to become a breath of fresh air in the title shot. More importantly for fans and the powers that be, Tuivasa dispatched all five opponents on their winning streak in less than three rounds each time. His last victory over Lewis, in the hometown of “The Black Beast” no less, in which he had to rally to stop the contender was the one that propelled Tuivasa to the top echelon of the division.

Stylistically, the fight combines Gane’s technical proficiency with Tuivasa’s intimidating physicality. Gane’s ability to use a full arsenal of foot strikes and counter with excellent footwork has made him a problem for opponents in the past. He should follow the same strategy, choose his spots and keep combinations short in order to avoid being stuck in the fence by Tuivasa. For Tuivasa, heavy use of kicks to slow down Gane should be part of the strategy as it will make the former interim champion a more stationary target.

The winner of the fight is generally expected to fight Curtis Blaydes in what would be a title eliminator in most scenarios in the division. That said, a potential fight with Stipe Miocic could materialize late this year or early next year for the interim title if Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou fail to reach an agreement to return to action.


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