5 perfect fights for first-ever UFC Paris

French heavyweight Ciryl Gane [Image via @UFC_CA on Twitter]
French heavyweight Ciryl Gane [Image via @UFC_CA on Twitter]
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C. Naik

The UFC is always looking to break into new markets. France has emerged as a hotbed for MMA talent in recent years, and with the sport being legalized in the country in 2020, French fighters can finally compete in front of their compatriots.

It was recently confirmed that the UFC will finally put on their first event in France later this year. A number of matchups have been rumored for the UFC Paris fight card, which will be underway at the Accor Arena on September 3rd.

The UFC will come to Paris this September [Image via @MMA_TIME on Twitter]
The UFC will come to Paris this September [Image via @MMA_TIME on Twitter]

The UFC will be eyeing a statement-making debut in France. The promotion will likely put together a stacked fight card featuring top French and European talent, and if all goes well, Paris could emerge as an annual destination for the MMA leader.

On that note, here are five perfect fights for UFC Paris.

#5. Edson Barboza vs. Charles Jourdain

Edson Barboza has endured a turbulent run in the featherweight division since opting to drop down from lightweight. The dynamic Brazilian striker is now 2-3 at 145 pounds and has lost his last two bouts against Giga Chikadze and Bryce Mitchell.

Currently ranked No.12, the 36-year-old is quite far off a championship opportunity at this point in his career. When matched up a certain way, Barboza puts on scorching bonus-winning fights and the promotion should look to give him fellow strikers going forward.

Charles Jourdain, although not the biggest name in the featherweight division, is among the most entertaining fighters to watch. The Canadian is coming off back-to-back wins over Andre Ewell and Lando Vannata, and has slowly but surely built a reputation for being a fan-friendly fighter. 'Air' called out Barboza following his victory over Vannata.

Jourdain proposes a striking battle with Barboza πŸΏπŸ‘€ #UFCVegas52

The UFC often puts on an explosive fight as the curtain-raiser of a main card to ensure that the arena is packed to the rafters for the marquee bouts of a Fight Night or pay-per-view. Edson Barboza vs. Charles Jourdain is the ideal fight to open up the main card at UFC Paris, as the matchup is guaranteed to produce fireworks.

Charles Jourdain had quite the call out after his win at #UFCVegas52. Who do you like in this one? ⬇️ #MMATwitter

#4. Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nassourdine Imavov

Nassourdine Imavov is one of the most promising French prospects on the roster. The No.11-ranked middleweight contender trains alongside former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane under renowned coach Fernand Lopez.

He delivered back-to-back TKO victories against Ian Heinisch and Edmen Shahbazyan last year to break into the rankings at 185 pounds.

Imavov was all set for the biggest fight of his career in April earlier this year, when he was slated to take on former interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum. However, visa issues prevented the Frenchman from entering the United States in time and the bout was scrapped.

Nevertheless, with both fighters having signed on the dotted line to fight one another previously, Gastelum and Imavov should ideally be re-booked for UFC Paris.

It's a fantastic matchup as well, which allows Imavov the opportunity to break into the public consciousness on a massive stage against a veteran, if he wins, of course.

Kevin Gastelum vs. Nassourdine Imavov [Image via @BigMarcel24 on Twitter]
Kevin Gastelum vs. Nassourdine Imavov [Image via @BigMarcel24 on Twitter]

#3. Katlyn Chookagian vs. Manon Fiorot

Manon Fiorot is among the most intriguing contenders in the women's flyweight division. The champion of the weight class, Valentina Shevchenko, is arguably the most dominant champion in all of MMA. Fiorot might just be the only fighter with a real chance of dethroning the flyweight queen.

Like Shevchenko, Fiorot has a ton of experience outside the UFC. Before turning pro, she competed in the IMMAF championships, the most prestigious MMA competition at the amateur level.

She won the gold medal at the IMMAF championship, before picking up the UAE Warriors and EFC women's flyweight titles, which prompted the world's premier MMA organization to come calling.

BREAKING: IMMAF Gold medalist, EFC & UAE Warriors women’s flyweight champion Manon Fiorot (@ManonFiorot_MMA) has signed with the UFC.She’ll make her debut on Jan 20th against Victoria Leonardo, sources say.

Since joining the UFC, Fiorot has been in absolutely scintillating form. She secured TKO victories in her first two outings and followed them up with consecutive unanimous decision wins over Mayra Bueno Silva and former title challenger Jennifer Maia to break into the top ten in the rankings.

With Valentina Shevchenko running out of challengers, Fiorot has seemingly been fast-tracked up the rankings. Now ranked No.6, she is likely one or two wins away from a shot at gold.

She is reportedly set to take on another former title challenger in Katlyn Chookagian at UFC Paris, however, the matchup is yet to be made official.

🚨BREAKING: The UFC is targeting Katlyn Chookagian vs. Manon Fiorot for #UFCParis on September 3rd.The UFC has already sent out a contract offer to Fiorot after the Chookagian vs. Ribas fight last night.[per @BoxeMag_com]#UFCParis #UFC #MMA

Chookagian has had a peculiar career so far. The perennial flyweight contender is clearly the second-best fighter in the division behind Shevchenko and has beaten most of the top contenders already. Her point-fighting style has drawn criticism on occasion, as she's yet to secure a stoppage victory in the promotion.

A potential Chookagian vs. Fiorot matchup offers both flyweights a chance to solidify their claim to a shot at the belt. A win for Chookagian could earn her a rematch with the champion. On the flipside, a hometown victory for Fiorot could catapult the rising star straight into the title mix.

#2. Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori – UFC Paris co-main event

Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori are in a tough spot in the middleweight division. Both fighters have come up short against reigning champion Israel Adesanya twice already, and are likely quite a few wins away from challenging 'The Last Stylebender' in potential trilogy bouts.

Whittaker wants to run it back πŸ” #UFC271

Whittaker currently occupies the No.1 spot in the 185-pound rankings, while Vettori sits at No.3. A fight between the middleweight duo is the only course of action in the division. Additionally, the stylistic matchup is phenomenal.

They were initially slated to square off at UFC 275. Unfortunately, 'The Reaper' picked up an injury during training camp and the bout was removed from the card. The matchup has reportedly been moved to a later date, with Whittaker calling for the fight to be re-booked for UFC Paris.

Take me to Europe βœˆοΈπŸ‘ŠπŸ½πŸ‘ŠπŸ½ @ufc @UFC_AUSNZ #UFCParis

The stakes will be massive going into a Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori bout. Whoever comes out on the losing end will be so far off the title that they might have to consider switching weight classes if they truly want to become a UFC champion.

Meanwhile, the victor will keep his hopes of a trilogy bout with Israel Adesanya alive. With both Whittaker and Vettori currently in their prime, this is likely the most important fight of their careers so far.

Israel Adesanya's message to middleweight contenders [Image via @btsportufc on Twitter]
Israel Adesanya's message to middleweight contenders [Image via @btsportufc on Twitter]

#1. Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa – UFC Paris main event

The main event for UFC Paris has already been confirmed. The face of French MMA at the moment, Ciryl Gane, will look to return to winning ways when he takes on surging Australian heavyweight and fan-favorite Tai Tuivasa when they square off at the Accor Arena on September 3.

Both Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa have agreed to fight on Sept. 3, officials confirmed to @bokamotoESPN. An official location has not been announced, but the event has been targeted for Paris. It would mark the UFC's first trip to France.

Gane was handed the first loss of his professional career in January earlier this year, against reigning heavyweight king and former teammate Francis Ngannou. Despite being the betting favorite going into the title unification bout, he was outwrestled in the final three rounds by Ngannou, who came away with a unanimous decision victory.

Tuivasa is arguably the most favorable matchup for Gane in the top five. 'Bam Bam' prefers to stand-and-bang just like the Frenchman, but technically, is nowhere near as skilled. While he has been shown to have one-punch knockout power, the Australian will likely struggle against the movement and accuracy of the former Muay Thai champion.

Gane will be itching to return to winning ways in his next outing. Many believe that if he can improve his defensive wrestling, he could be a real problem for every heavyweight on the planet.

'Bon Gamin' is coming for undisputed gold, and a main event slot in his nation's capital is the perfect platform to stake his claim for another title shot.

Ciryl Gane is looking to return to the title mix [Image via @ciryl_gane on Instagram]
Ciryl Gane is looking to return to the title mix [Image via @ciryl_gane on Instagram]
Edited by David Andrew
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