UFC Fight Night 209 takes place tomorrow in Paris and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Ciryl Gane vs. Tai Tuivasa
Gane’s undefeated record finally broke with a unanimous decision loss in his title fight against Francis Ngannou last time out and now he goes up against the in-form Tuivasa, who is on a roll with five wins in a row.
Tuivasa’s rise to prominence is even more impressive when you consider that he was almost released from the UFC after three losses in a row back in 2019. Since then he’s tightened up his striking style, though at his core he is still a hard-headed, heavy-handed brawler whose current winning run has seen him stop notable opponents like Stefan Struve, Greg Hardy, Augusto Sakai and Derrick Lewis via strikes.
Gane employs a style that’s the complete opposite of Tuivasa and many of his heavyweight counterparts. Instead of wading into battle looking to land one big killer blow, he instead employs a more refined, technical and cerebral approach to the stand-up game, looking to hit without getting hit in return as he operates from range with clean strikes and a sense of distance management that’s enhanced by a 2″ height and 8″ reach advantage.
Add in his solid cardio and good speed for his size, together with a willingness to go for clinch-work and takedowns at times, and you have a fighter that’s hard to beat, though it was very surprising to see him outwrestled so comfortably by Ngannou last time out.
Tuivasa won’t be looking to test if he’s made any improvements in that regard here though and instead will focus his efforts on securing a KO finish. I think he’ll have a hard time with that though as Gane has the style and a massive reach advantage to help keep him at bay from a safe distance and gradually pick him apart to earn a decision win.
Pick: Ciryl Gane wins by decision.
Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori
These two have both now lost twice to long-time middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, but they still remain top contenders in the division with former champ Whittaker holding an 11-2 record at 185lbs in the UFC, while Vettori has gone 8-3-1.
The 28-year-old Vettori has developed his striking game over time to become a more effective force on the feet, while continuing to utilize his durability and cardio to drive a hard pace and continually pressure his opponents.
Despite that, Whittaker remains the more technical, dangerous striker of the two. He’s a very well versed boxer with a quality jab, good power and footwork, sharp timing and he will also utilize kicks too.
Vettori is also a strong wrestler and will likely look to use that here, but Whittaker has excellent takedown defense and good wrestling of his own. That could leave Vettori trying to gain an advantage via the clinch, which also may prove to be easier said than done.
So, in the end I feel that this fight will be won and lost in the striking exchanges, and while Vettori has plenty of heart, toughness and determination, Whittaker is still on a different level technically and will be able to match his pace too on his way to a decision win.
Pick: Robert Whittaker wins by decision.
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Roman Kopylov
After a 17-second KO loss last time out, Di Chirico has now lost four of his last five UFC fights, while Kopylov is yet to secure a win in his first two Octagon outings, so it’s somewhat surprising to see this match-up on the main card.
Kopylov did show promise before joining the UFC though with an 8-0 record including seven stoppages while mostly competing for Fight Night Global. He has good boxing and respectable power, while he also lands well on the counter, but he has been overly hesitant at times during his fights in the UFC so far.
Di Chirico is something of an all-rounder and will look to strike and wrestle. He has a good variety of offensive weapons on the feet and when he commits to that he can find success. However, he isn’t the most active striker and can leave himself open to being hit when he does open up, while at times he resorts to just clinching up rather than continue to engage at striking distance.
I believe Kopylov has more to show than we’ve seen from him in the UFC so far, and given that he really needs a win to stay in the promotion and Di Chirico likely to be more tentative after his swift head kick KO loss last time out, I think this could pave the wave for Kopylov to step up his striking and secure a second round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Roman Kopylov wins by TKO in Rd2.
John Makdessi vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Makdessi is coming into this one having won four of his last five fights, but the veteran hasn’t gained much traction due to only fighting once a year, while Haqparast has been more active since joining the UFC in 2017, but has had mixed results, going 5-4, including losing his last two fights via decision.
Madkessi comes from a karate background and particularly early in his UFC run he would demonstrate all kinds of eye-catching kicks and spinning attacks. He’s never been much of a finisher though and over the years the now 37-year-old has toned down his style and put more emphasis on crisp boxing fundamentals, looking to outpoint opponents over three rounds.
Haqparast is 10 years younger than Makdessi and employs a more aggressive style with good boxing that’s complimented by fast hands and solid power, though he’s so far not been able to replicate the finishing success he enjoyed on the regional circuit prior to signing for the UFC.
Still, I do feel that the younger, fresher Haqparast will be the one landing the more impactful blows here and as the fighter who is more willing to constantly press forward and engage from start to finish I think he’ll edge out a decision victory here
Pick: Nasrat Haqparast wins by decision.
William Gomis vs. Jaron Errens
This late addition to the card sees two newcomers propelled straight onto the main card ,with France’s own Gomis having racked up eight wins in a row on the regional scene, while dutch fighter Errens has compiled a 13-3-1 run.
Gomis is a long, rangey striker with good speed who will utilize a lot of kicks, but has solid power in his punches and will look for for knees at close range. He’s also willing to go for takedown, despite not being particularly strong on top.
Errens doesn’t seem like he’s just in here to be an easy win for the hometown fighter as he has solid kickboxing and a background in judo, while he has a few submission wins to his name too.
So it should be a competitive fight, but I think Gomis will be more effective with his striking from range to get the nod on the scorecards.
Pick: William Gomis wins by decision.
Charles Jourdain vs. Nathaniel Wood
These two are returning to action quickly after competing in July, with Jourdain having been in a very entertaining fight with Shane Burgos that he lost by majority decision loss, while Wood earned a unanimous decision victory over Charles Rosa.
This appears to be a well matched fight that should be fun to watch. Jourdain is a good striker with a proven finishing record who builds up a head of steam as the fight goes on, throwing plenty of kicks, but backing that up with very nice boxing ability and solid power.
Wood is still settling into life at featherweight after a move up from bantamweight and he has more of a methodical, consistent approach over three rounds with solid kickboxing from range, though he does have a few submission wins too – as does Jourdain.
I think this will be a close fight throughout, but I think Jourdain will catch the judges attention with his aggressive flurries and harder strikes at times over 15 minutes of fighting to get the nod by decision.
Pick: Charles Jourdain wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Abus Magomedov vs. Dustin Stoltzfus
Fares Ziam vs. Michal Figlak
Benoit Saint Denis vs. Gabriel Miranda
Nassourdine Imavov vs. Joaquin Buckley
Khalid Taha vs. Christian Quinonez
Stephanie Egger vs. Ailin Perez