Paris, France — The main event of UFC Paris was unquestionably worth the wait.
The promotion’s debut in France has been a long time coming, and the UFC arrived with a bang on Saturday at the Accor Arena in the French capital. While the card didn’t perform top-to-bottom quite the way the UFC’s return to London did back in March, there were plenty of highlights — and one of the most entertaining heavyweight tilts in some time.
France’s own Ciryl Gane, looking to bounce back from a loss to Francis Ngannou in a title unification bout earlier this year, took until the third round to finish off rugged Australian Tai Tuivasa — but finish him he did. For all the talk of Gane’s movement and technique, the fight was more often a slugfest, and Gane paid the price early, being knocked down by “Bam Bam.”
It was Tuivasa, however, who came away bloodied. Throughout the fight, he would eat crushing blows the body, and at least one head kick. Then, in the third round, with the damage quickly accumulating, Gane rocked Tuivasa once again, and this time landed the necessary follow-up strikes to put the fight away.
The win goes down as a knockout victory for Gane, who called for the belt following the fight — though that remains held by rival Francis Ngannou. Both “Bon Gamin” and Tuivasa will share in Fight of the Night honors, UFC Senior VP of International and Content, David Shaw, announced backstage following the event.
Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Abus Magomedov, who scored a crushing front kick on Dustin Stoltzfus to top the preliminary card, and France’s own Benoit St. Denis.
All four fighters will pocket an extra $50,000 for their efforts in the UFC’s French debut.