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UFC Paris: Gane vs. Tuivasa

By Ryan Nadrajan

After taking a rare pause from action last weekend, the UFC returns and embarks on a journey to the “City of Love” for the first time. What now feels like an eternity from the last outing at UFC 278, the company would hope to re-create some of the cinematic moments from that card and showcase it at the Accor Arena in Paris on Saturday.

Leon Edwards captured his own “Rocky” moment when he stunned Kamaru Usman with a vicious head-kick knockout with a minute remaining in the fight in which he was about to lose if it had hit the scorecards. To take the honors this weekend to try and top off that performance will be France’s own Cyril Gane and Tai Tuivasa in what is expected to be a fun fight for however long it lasts.

Before the two heavyweights go swinging, a much-anticipated bout will play out at middleweight as Robert Whittaker returns to action, taking on Marvin Vettori. This is the second time the match-makers have put this fight together after a failed attempt that was supposed to take place at UFC 275 in June. Robert Whittaker (23-6) pulled out of the fight with an undisclosed injury and has kept mum about it up until this point. The Australian has remained at the top of the elites in the middleweight class, going 12-2 in his last fourteen, with both losses coming to division titleholder Israel Adesanya. After a controversial split decision loss to the champion back in February, he has his eyes set on a trilogy if he can get past Vettori this weekend.

Marvin Vettori (18-5) will get to compete in the closest proximity to Italy that he will likely be able to during his UFC tenure. That also means he will have an audience favoring him to win over his opponent for the first time. Like Whittaker, he finds himself at the top of the division going 6-2 in his last eight, with both losses coming to Adesanya as well. In his last fight, he went toe-to-toe for 25 minutes for a unanimous decision victory against Paulo Costa, a fight that gave us a lot to learn about Vettori. Not only is his will and desire to win unmatched, but he has also tons of determination and is one of the most durable fighters on the roster. At 28 years of age, the Italian has yet to be finished.

Both men share very similar stats in Strikes Landed per min, Striking Accuracy, Strikes Absorbed per min, and Defense. It will come down to a very close fight and perhaps 25 minutes would have served more justice than a 3-rounder. I believe there are too many questions about Rob’s health going into this one. We still don’t know what the injury was, and his comments this week about moving up to 205lbs were interesting. It was almost as if he was speaking about preparing for an expected loss. At 31 years old, he has been in some wars and the weight cuts do not come easy anymore as they used to. I think the edge is on Vettori in this fight, and he has shown a little bit more unpredictability in his last few which could frustrate Whittaker. With the home crowd (sort of) behind him, I think Marvin gets the job done in a gruelling decision.

Pick: Marvin Vettori (+190) at Sports Interaction

Other bets to consider:

Tai Tuivasa (+400) Bet99 - It’s highly probable that Cyril Gane takes his time and picks apart “Bam Bam,” BUT these are heavyweights we are talking about, and after UFC 278 we know anything can happen! Worth a sprinkle, and who doesn’t want to see a Shoey in Paris?

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