UFC Fight Night 226 takes place tomorrow in Paris, France and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Ciryl Gane vs. Sergey Spivak
After a quick submission loss to Jon Jones in their heavyweight title fight back in March, Ciryl Gane is looking to bounce back in front of his home fans in Paris, where he knocked out Tai Tuivasa last year. His opponent this time is Sergey Spivak, who has won his last three fights in a row to go 7-3 overall in his UFC run to date.
Gane made a strong impression when he first arrived in the UFC back in 2019, winning his first seven fights in a row and defeating some big name opponents along the way. A well-versed muay thai striker who moves very well for his size, Gane also stood out from the crowd thanks to his calm and calculated approach, fighting at a measured pace and attacking with timing, accuracy and technique rather than just slugging it out. He also displayed some decent offensive wrestling too, but a significant weakness in his wrestling defense would be exposed when his former training partner Francis Ngannou got the better of him on the mat and then Jon Jones quickly dominated him there.
And as it happens he’s now going up against Spivak, a well-rounded heavyweight who can mix it up on the feet to an extent, but most significantly poses a serious threat on the ground. Spivak has good wrestling skills and proven finishing ability via submission, as well as effective ground-and-pound.
Gane has a clear advantage in the striking department here, and with his athleticism, reach and movement he’ll be hoping to keep Spivak at a safe distance. However, unless Gane has made big improvements to his wrestling defense in a relatively short space of time I think Spivak can exploit Gane’s weaknesses on the ground to find a 1st round submission finish.
Pick: Sergey Spivak wins by submission in Rd1
Manon Fiorot vs. Rose Namajunas
Former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is looking for a fresh start at flyweight after losing her title to Carla Esparza in a close decision in May of last year. She will face a tough test in her debut at 125lbs against France’s Manon Fiorot, who has been on a tear in the UFC with five straight wins.
Namajunas is a talented striker with crisp and accurate boxing, good kicks, as well as being fast and having fluid movement. While she doesn’t always use it as much these days she also has a dangerous ground game with a crafty knack for finding submissions. However, her wrestling defense is a weakness that has been exploited by some opponents and she’s not the physically strongest fighter.
Meanwhile, Fiorot is a big flyweight who will have a size and strength advantage over Namajunas. She is a good striker with an aggressive approach who likes to pressure her opponents with high volume and has significant power too. Fiorot can also initiate takedowns, but would have to be wary of Namajunas’ submission prowess there, and she herself has yet to win by that method.
Namajunas was very hesitant to engage last time out and in general it always feels like there’s a mental battle as well as a physical one going on with her as she’s fallen in and out of love with the sport at times over the years. On the other hand, Fiorot seems very focused and has so far performed well on the big occasion, so she feels like the more dependable fighter of the two here.
Still, at her best Namajunas has proven to be a special talent, even holding back-to-back wins over elite strawweights Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili. So while it’s hard to pick her with complete confidence, I do feel that she has the edge in striking technique here, and with her speed, movement, timing and fight IQ I believe she can effectively counter Fiorot’s aggression. It’ll likely be a hard-fought battle that goes the distance, but I’ll take Namajunas to win by decision.
Pick: Rose Namajunas wins by decision.
Benoit Saint Denis vs. Thiago Moises
Thiago Moises is looking for his third consecutive submission victory when he faces Benoit Saint Denis, who has won three straight fights since losing his UFC debut in 2021.
Saint Denis is a big and athletic lightweight who can be competitive on the feet and on the mat. He is a respectable striker, though he does rely to much on his durable chin at times, while he’s also a strong wrestler with a knack for finishing fights on the ground, as evidenced by 9 of his 11 career victories coming by way of submission.
Saint Denis may have second thoughts about going to the mat with Moises though as he is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, and though he has a similar number of submission wins as Saint Denis he appears to have the advantage there. However, Moises is not the best at taking his opponents down in the first place, so he’ll be hoping his opponent is tempted to bring the fight to the mat himself.
Moises can also strike, but while he has some power his low output offense can count against him. I think Saint Denis will try to take advantage of that by outworking Moises with his striking while using his wrestling defensively to ensure the fight stays upright, leading him to a decision win.
Pick: Benoit Saint Denis wins by decision.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov
Volkan Oezdemir has lost three of his last four bouts but is still ranked No.9 in the 205lb division as he prepares to take on a late-replacement newcomer in Guskov, who has a 14-2 record.
Oezdemir has kickboxing experience in the past, but these days he tends to focus more on his boxing in the Octagon. He likes to get into close quarters when possible and has proven knock out power in his fists. However, while Oezdemir made a big impact early in his UFC run to get a title shot, he’s struggled to live up to that since, and even at 33-years-old he has shown some signs of decline, becoming slower, and more tentative and predictable with his offense.
Guskov’s 14-2 record flatters to deceive as his career so far has featured a lot of low-level opponents in regional shows, so this is a big step-up in competition for him. He is a striker who likes to swing for the fences with his powerful punches, but his slugger-style comes at the expense of his defense.
I think we’ll see Guskov come out aggressively here looking for an early finish, but I think Oezdemir is more skilled and seasoned than Guskov on the feet and will find a home for his heavy hands to end this one in the opening round.
Pick: Volkan Oezdemir wins by TKO in Rd1.
William Gomis vs. Yanis Ghemmouri
Yanis Ghemmouri and William Gomis headed into fight week with other opponents, but due to last-minute changes they will now face each other instead.
Gomis is a tall, lanky 145lb’er and as such has a big advantage in height and reach over his opponent here. He likes to use those long limbs to fight at distance with his fast, though at times low-output punches and kicks, while he can also operate from the clinch too.
Ghommouri is making his UFC debut and comes from a muay thai background. He has solid technique and welcomes fighting in the clinch, but his output is on the low-side. He can grapple too and does have some submission finishes on his resume.
This might not be the most thrilling of fights, but I think Gomis will use his physical attributes to outstrike Ghemmouri from a safe distance and win by decision.
Pick: William Gomis wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Morgan Charriere vs. Manolo Zecchini
Nora Cornolle vs. Joselyne Edwards
Taylor Lapis vs. Caolan Loughran
Zarah Fairn dos Santos vs. Jacqueline Cavalcanti
Ange Loosa vs. Rhys McKee
Farid Basharat vs. Kleydson Rodrigues