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UFC Fight Night 209 breakdown: Can Tai Tuivasa crash Ciryl Gane’s Paris party?

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom reduces the UFCs top bouts. Today, we go through the main event for UFC Fight Night 209.

UFC Fight Night 209 occurs Saturday at Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.

Ciryl Gane (10-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC)

Ciryl Gane

Staple info:

  • Height: 64 Age: 32 Weight: 247 lbs. Reach: 81
  • Last fight: Decision loss to Francis Ngannou (Jan. 22, 2022)
  • Camp: MMA Factory (Paris)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:

+ UFC interim heavyweight champion

+ Regional MMA title

+ 2x French muay Thai champion

+ 4 KO victories

+ 3 submission wins

+ 3 first-round finishes

+ KO power

+ Athletic and agile

+ Consistent pace and pressure

+ Creative feints and footwork

^ Changers tempo/shifts stances

+ Accurate shot selection

^ Would go to your body and attacks legs

+ Is effective in the clinch

^ Solid wrist controls and setups

+ Shows surprising submission game

Tai Tuivasa (15-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC)

Tai Tuivasa

Staple info:

  • Height: 62 Age: 29 Weight: 265 lbs. Reach: 75
  • Last fight: Knockout make an impression on Derrick Lewis (Feb. 12, 2022)
  • Camp: Tiger Muay Thai (Thailand/Dubai)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:

+ Regional MMA titles

+ Pro-boxing experience

^ Record of 5-2 (3 through KO)

+ 13 KO victories

+ 10 first-round finishes

+ KO power

+ Deceptively athletic and agile

^ Explosive distance closer

+ Serviceable feints and footwork

+ Improved kicks and counters

+ Diverse shot selection

^ Variates attack levels well

+ Strong within the clinch

^ Strikes well off the breaks

+ Shows improved grappling/getups

^ Positional and underhook awareness

Point of interest: Muay Thai maelstrom

Dec 11, 2021; NEVADA, Nevada, USA; Tai Tuivasa lands popular against /Agusto Sakai during UFC 269 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The primary event in Paris includes a showdown between two heavyweights that are very acquainted with the art of eight limbs.

A former soccer player who found a taste for muay Thai, Ciryl Gane seems to represent the hopes of several in regards to the potential of heavyweight athletes transitioning into mixed fighting techinques.

Apart from looking the part aesthetically, Gane, moreover, demonstrates an capability to both sponge and sequence techniquesand certainly moves well beyond his years.

Showing he can switch stances with substance, Gane seems competent from both sides, smoothly shifting the tempo of his attacks. From changing the speed on his kicks to pot-shotting punches and checks, Gane appears fully with the capacity of both frustrating and punishing his opposition.

Even @ciryl_gane‘s jab is really a power shot #UFC256

ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 13, 2020

Furthermore, Ganes somewhat fast-and-loose style has even proved to carry up in small octagon. The 32-year-olds distance management and proprioception look like impeccable. Nevertheless, I still suspect that Gane can look to work with the entirety of the regulation-sized octagon when he squares off with the heavy-hitting Tai Tuivasa.

From flying knees to crushing elbows, Tuivasa bears all of the weapons to help keep his opponents up during the night. A former boxer and longtime training partner to Australias top fighters (which include famous brands Mark Hunt and Tyson Pedro), Tuivasa posesses little more experience than meets the attention.

Despite still needing to cut a little bit of weight to help make the heavyweight limit, Tuivasa moves deceptively well for a guy of his size. The former Rugby studs athleticism especially shines through along with his capability to quickly close distances, going from flicking jabs to blitzing combinations at the drop of a dime.

Tuivasa has quietly carried serviceable feints and footwork since his early UFC outings, however the 29-year-old has really appeared to sharpen his kicks and counters since splitting time taken between Tiger Muay Thai and his personalized training camps in Dubai (where he also works together with professional heavyweight kickboxers).

Now, it isn’t uncommon to see Tuivasa target the legs of his opponents with impunity all while keeping hard, checking hooks in tow for anybody attempting to enter from his kicks. Tuivasa can be a frequent threat along with his strikes in and from the clinch, but hell have to be mindful of the strengths that Gane possesses in this space.

Point of interest: Potential grappling threats

Jan 22, 2022; Anaheim, California, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) competes against Ciryl Gane (blue gloves) during UFC 270 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Considering Ganes propensity to make use of the clinch in a variety of ways, I am curious to observe how much he elects to grapple with a hard-hitting threat like Tuivasa.

Not merely can Gane flip the script with things such as reactive shots on view, however the athletic heavyweight also conducts himself well within clinches. Utilizing diligent wrist controls, Gane will keep track of his opponents intentions, all while keeping hard knees or sneaky elbows in play.

Dan Tom (@DanTomMMA) January 20, 2022

If Gane looks going to foot sweeps or takedowns in these spots, then Tuivasa should be prepared to defend from leg locks to head-and-arm chokes. Having said that, the Frenchman could have more obstacles than simply uppercuts and knees with regards to grounding Tuivasa.

Despite the fact that Tuivasa continues to be vunerable to being removed in spots, the 10-year pro has clearly put work into his getup and transition game given the hustle he displays when swimming for underhooks or single-leg establishments to stand. And when Tuivasa can turn his opposition to the cage, then devastating elbows from small frames will definitely follow.

Ill be curious to observe how much Gane can stymie Tuivasas clinch offense along with his clever wrist controls, but hell have to be extra mindful along with his entries if grappling is really a area of the idea this Saturday.

Point of interest: Odds and opinions

Dec 11, 2021; NEVADA, Nevada, USA; Tai Tuivasa is declared the winner by knockout against Agusto Sakai during UFC 269 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The oddsmakers and public are heavily favoring the Frenchman, listing Gane -600 and Tuivasa +400 at Tipico Sportsbook.

Although I dont disagree with who’s favored, I usually have a tendency to suspiciously squint at wide betting spreads in heavyweight MMA. Dont misunderstand me: Gane may be the rightful favorite, no you need to be shocked to start to see the Frenchman smartly utilize his technical savvy and athleticism to outpoint Tuivasa down the stretch.

Nevertheless, fighting smart could be a deceptively treacherous path to ingest a division that sees such heavy swings particularly when youre tasked with fighting someone like Tuivasa for 25 minutes.

Moreover, Tuivasa carries some key tools in his arsenal like leg kicks, that ought to prove useful against a far more athletic and agile mover. As weve seen again and again in MMA, leg kicks have create the falls for a few of the sports most elusive strikers (Shogun Rua defeating Lyoto Machida, Douglas Lima defeating Michael Page, etc.).

Even though facing a southpaw in Blagoy Ivanov, Tuivasa showed little issue attacking the Bulgarians lead leg, causing him to severely limp by the 3rd frame. Having said that, Ivanov had plenty of success with the typical southpaw weapons just like the check right hook, so dont be surprised to see Gane primarily operate out of this stance.

Actually, I believe that lead hooks particularly in a checking fashion will undoubtedly be live for both sides of the heavyweight affair. However, I ultimately made a decision to have a flier and back the underdog in this spot.

I understand its not just a popular or high-percentage pick to create in writing, but I honestly thinks Tuivasa is a lot livelier compared to the odds indicate from the stylistic perspective especially given the actual fact Gane includes a propensity to reset himself within the Western Australians kill zone of the clinch.

Weve seen fighters overly inflated from failed bids for titles before, and Ill semi-reluctantly side with Tuivasa to reenact Carlos Condits make an impression on Dan Hardy by crashing Ganes homecoming Saturday with a knockout win in Round2.

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