The Real Winners and Losers From UFC Fight Night 210
UFC Fight Night 210 went down on Saturday in Paris, and it was not your run of the mill fight card. It marked the UFC's long-awaited debut in France, where MMA was illegal until 2019.
The promotion put together a suitably solid card to commemorate the occasion.
Headlining honors went to a heavyweight clash between No. 1-ranked contender Ciryl Gane—the hometown hero—and visiting Australian Tai Tuivasa, who was ranked No. 3 heading into the fight. Outside of a second-round scare, Gane was in top form in the fight, finishing his Aussie foe with a vicious third-round volley.
The co-main event, meanwhile, saw No. 1-ranked middleweight contender Robert Whittaker—a former champ—risk his spot against Italy's Marvin Vettori, the division's No. 2 fighter. The Australian Whittaker was the picture of dominance in the fight, out-striking his dangerous foe to a clear-cut unanimous-decision victory.
Elsewhere on the card, we saw appearances from a number of French fighters, and fighters from French-speaking regions like Quebec, including No. 12-ranked middleweight Nassourdine Imavov, who picked up a unanimous-decision win over Joaquin Buckley on the main card.
When all was said and done, it was a great night of fights, and just the kind of reward the fans in France deserved for their incredible patience.
Keep scrolling for the real winners and losers from the UFC's debut in the country.
Winner: Rising to the Occasion
There was a lot of pressure on Ciryl Gane's shoulders ahead of UFC Fight Night 210. Not only was he charged with headlining the UFC's first event in his home country against the extremely dangerous Tai Tuivasa, but it was his opportunity to rebound from a decision loss to reigning heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou, and reassert himself as the division's top contender.
He did all that and more.
The French heavyweight was incredible in the fight. While he was dropped by a Tuivasa punch in round two, he was soundly in control of the action outside of that scare, and ultimately scored a third-round TKO with a sizzling attack to the body and head.
After the win, Gane's future is a bit murky. His loss to Ngannou is still visible in the rear-view, and to make matters worse, the champion is embroiled in a heated contract dispute with the UFC that has greatly complicated the title situation at heavyweight.
One way or the other, however, Gane figures to be a big part of any conversations surrounding Ngannou's undisputed title, or the creation of an interim title if the champion doesn't fight again soon.
He certainly seems to see it that way.
"Dana, now I'm going back to the belt, please," he said post-fight, addressing UFC President Dana White.
Winner: Being Great Without a Title
Former UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker was back in action in the UFC Fight Night 210 co-main event, taking on No. 2-ranked contender Marvin Vettori of Italy. The former champion made it look easy, pummelling his foe to an obvious unanimous-decision victory.
The performance reaffirmed the prevailing discourse surrounding Whittaker: that he is the best middleweight alive outside the reigning champion Israel Adesanya, whom he has lost to twice. But that might actually be understating things.
After UFC Fight Night 210, it's clear that Whittaker is not only the UFC's second-best middleweight, but one of the greatest fighters in the division's history, irrespective of how he matches up with the current champ.
The Australian has beaten nearly every middleweight worth mentioning over the last few years, including Vettori, Jared Cannonier, Derek Brunson, Darren Till, Kelvin Gastelum and Brad Tavares—all of whom are currently ranked in the Top 15. Throw in his wins over other stars like Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza and Yoel Romero, and there's really no refuting his legacy as one of the division's true greats.
And he seems to know it.
“Including the champion, I’m the most dangerous man in the division,” Whittaker said in his post-fight interview with commentator Michael Bisping. “I make people hate fighting. I’m always gunning for that top spot. I’m always going to be lurking there waiting.”
Loser: Backing Up the Talk
Joaquin Buckley talked himself into a big opportunity at UFC Fight Night 210: a fight with No. 12-ranked middleweight contender and hometown hero Nassourdine Imavov. He entered the fight without a ranking himself, so there was potential for a massive payoff.
The American showed a ton of heart in the fight, and had a strong third round, but was ultimately unable to back up his pre-fight talk. He simply couldn't navigate his foe's substantial height and reach advantages with enough regularity to get his own game going, and lost a unanimous decision as a result.
While Buckley failed to back up the talk that led to his fight with Imavov, however, he was able to gain his foe's respect—quite an accomplishment considering the bad blood that was festering between them all through fight week and even in the fight itself.
"He's a warrior," Imavov said of Buckley after his decision win. "That's why I chose him."
Loser: Last-minute Comebacks
A few weeks ago, Leon Edwards reminded us all that a fight isn't really over until it's over, knocking out pound-for-pound star Kamaru Usman in the final minute of a welterweight title fight he looked doomed to win by decision.
It was a comeback for the ages.
It's the rarity of such comebacks that makes them so special. They just don't happen that often. We were reminded of that in the second bout of the UFC Fight Night 210 main card, when Paris' William Gomis found himself locked up in a triangle choke in the final minute of a fight with Dutchman Jarno Errens—a fight he was on track to win by decision.
The choke looked deep, and it would not have been surprising to see a tap, but after a prolonged battle, Gomis slipped out of danger and survived the rest of the fight to win by majority decision.
“It was really, really complicated,” Gomis said of Errens' last-minute comeback attempt. “He had the triangle but then I heard the crowd. I’d rather die than give up.”
Winner: Greener Pastures
In the first bout of the UFC Fight Night 210 main card, England's Nathaniel Wood debuted at featherweight after a long stint at bantamweight, clashing with Canada's Charles Jourdain.
Early in the fight, commentators John Gooden and Michael Bisping noted how much smaller Wood looked than his opponent, and it gave the impression that the Brit's search for greener pastures in a heavier weight class might end in disaster. But that was not the case.
By the mid-way point of the first round, it was clear that Wood was the faster, sharper striker of the two men. He even managed to wobble Jourdain with a nice punch. He then continued to out-strike his foe in rounds two and three, and mixed in a few trips and takedowns for good measure.
Jourdain offered plenty of return fire, but by the end of the third it was a clear-cut unanimous-decision win for Wood. Time will tell if his move up to featherweight pays off long-term, but it is certainly off to a good start.
Full Card Results
Ciryl Gane def. Tai Tuivasa via KO (punches) - Round 3, 4:23
Robert Whittaker def. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Nassourdine Imavov def. Joaquin Buckley via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Roman Kopylov def. Alessio Di Chirico via KO (punches) - Round 3, 1:09
William Gomis def. Jarno Errens via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-29)
Nathaniel Wood def. Charles Jourdain via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Abusupiyan Magomedov def. Dustin Stoltzfus via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 0:19
Nasrat Haqparast def. John Makdessi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Fares Ziam def. Michal Figlak via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Benoit Saint Denis def. Gabriel Miranda via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 0:16
Cristian Quinonez def. Khalid Taha via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 3:15
Stephanie Egger def. Ailin Perez via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 4:54