This week the UFC returns to Paris, France after an outstanding fight card from Singapore last week where favorites rolled to another big night realizing a 10-3 result.
Nine athletes on this fight slate are making debuts or in the case of Rhys McKee debuting in his second stint in the UFC so there are but a handful actionable bouts in my judgement. I’ll choose to use the fights populated with debutants as ‘due diligence’ bouts where I collect the data for future consideration.
Favorite’s this year in the UFC stand 213-104-14 or 64.3%.
Michal Oleksiejczuk +100 did in fact weather a furious first few minutes from his opponent last Saturday before KO’ing the brute in the first round. Michal O pushes profitability for the year back into the black!
14-13 +0.15 for 2023
Cyril Gane -160 vs. Sergey Spivak +140 Heavyweight (265lbs.) main event
Gane, ranked number two in the heavyweight rankings has been impressive since hitting the heavyweight scene in 2019. He ran into Jon Jones this past March and was quickly shown that to compete against the elite in the UFC a fighter must be complete physically and mentally.
In his evolution Gane has shown aptitude with his athleticism, skill and stand-up ability and in this bout, we’ll witness how much growth there has been in his ability to defend take downs then once down, display an ability to get back up to his feet for this is the fulcrum to this fight!
A fighter with an elite kick boxing base, Gane is a unique specimen for he moves like a middleweight yet possesses the striking power of a heavyweight delivered with precision, speed, ferocity and intent.
Gane relies on deft footwork, evasive defense and precision volume striking often set up by the employment of damaging kicks to effectively maim opponents. From there compromised foes immobility further allows the nimbler Gane to close in for the stoppage.
A professional fighter since 2018, Gane’s 8-2 in the UFC and finds himself with a great opportunity in this bout to show the fight community that he’s addressed his lack of grappling defense off the heels of that magnificent gag against Jones.
In Spivak, Gane gets a similarly sized wrestling/grappling versed opponent who does have power in his hands but is not a natural striker. Winner of his last three straight and seven of his last eight, Spivak arrives with great momentum and a specific plan laid out by Jon Jones on how to defeat Gane.
Spivak will be focused on pressuring Gane, trying to negate his space, press him backwards then clasp onto him. The floor is ultimately where Spivak wants to take Gane for Spivak’s size and wrestling/grappling aptitude will provide him great advantage there.
Where Gane is quick, precise, athletic and fluid Spivak is premeditated, telegraphing and awkward on the feet. Standing and at distance is the last place Spivak can allow this fight to be contested for he needs to make this a slow dance at the high school prom or he’ll be shredded.
By Grappling Spivak can usurp some of the speed, zip and flash from Gane and in fact this is exactly his path to victory. He must find a way to wear the Frenchman down in order to make him more susceptible to Spivak’s grappling.
Once this fight begins it’s my belief that Gane’s athleticism, speed and focus off that loss will be on display only as long as it takes for Spivak to embrace him.
What remains to be seen is if Gane’s ability to defend a formidable take down attempt has been addressed since the Jones fight and any decent MMA trainer will tell you that the answer to that is a simple ‘NO’.
Spivak, though no Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is a formidable grappler whose immediate fight future lies in his ability to ground Gane in this bout. Will he be able to do so?
Gane opened -215 for this fight so there’s early Spivak interest in the market. Gane is currently priced -165 looks inviting but I’m wary of Spivak in this spot despite the fact that this fight in in Gane’s backyard.
I’ll await props for this bout but must say that this is no layup for Gane.
Total in this fight: 2.5Rds Under -260
Points: not available yet
Benoit St. Denis -155 vs. Thiago Moises +135 Lightweight (155lbs)
The fact that neither of these killers is ranked in the UFC’s Lightweight top fifteen seems to be proof that the lightweight division in the UFC is populated with nothing but world class talent.
In Brazilian Moises we get an elite grappler who is decorated with a black belt in BJJ. Eight of Moises seventeen professional wins have come via submission, three by KO.
Moises employs his stand-up game to set up his grappling for on the feet he realizes a negative strike differential (-1.5 significant strikes per minute) allowing 3.9 significant strikes per minute while connecting with only 2.4 significant strikes per minute.
Moises has had success against the middle tier of the division but when he steps into competition with top fifteen competition he has faltered. Moises enters this bout off two straight victories and it’s probable that the winner of this battle cracks into that top fifteen of the division.
In southpaw St. Denis we get an athlete that grew up with a father who was a judo instructor and if that was not enough this is a man is a former Navy Seal in the French military so not only can this man impose himself physically, mentally he cannot be overtaken.
St. Denis is a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in BJJ, he strikes with more volume/power than does his opponent but he also realizes a negative significant strike differential of -1.9 significant strikes per minute.
St. Denis is huge for the division and he’ll be much the larger man in the cage Saturday. He holds eleven professional victories of which nine have come via submission. Further, St. Denis has had success against Brazilian athletes with BJJ backgrounds though in this matchup it’s reasonable to believe that St. Denis will need to keep this fight standing.
Once this fight begins it will be Moises quickness and athleticism in competition against the forward pressure and striking aggression of St. Denis. On the feet St. Denis will need to crowd Moises press him against the cage and fight the Brazilian in close until he can soften him up and then attempt to take him out.
For Moises he’ll want to maintain distance in order to kick and counter the aggressive Frenchman on his way into engage for Moises must get this bout to the mat in order to realize success in my judgement.
Moises is durable, crafty and savvy and has only been submitted against current champion Makhachev. Each man will have difficulty finishing the other but the St. Denis size, ferocity and high-pressure pace coupled with a seasoned French crowd are the difference in this fight for me.
This bout opened St. Denis -120 and on Sunday I released St. Denis -125 with the feeling that this price would be higher by the time I submitted this column. St. Denis is currently -145 and rising…
Total in this fight 2.5Rds. Under -135 after opening -155.
Points: not available yet
GambLou ‘Bout Business Podcast: +20.38u 14% ROI (+128) on the year.
This week the Podcast drops midday Friday as the start time for the fights Saturday is 9am PT
Thank you for reading and enjoy the fights.