It has been known that the UFC is planning on bringing a card to Paris, France later this year. At one point, MMA in France was serving a 15-year ban. As of 2020, that ban was lifted and now the MMA world was opened up to France.
If it was up to us, this is what a 14-fight card would look like in France…
It’s pretty obvious who should headline the first UFC card in France, and that’s Ciryl Gane. Gane was born in La Roche-sur-Yon, France. He’s now fighting out of the MMA Factory under head coach Fernand Lopez. Gane is the former interim UFC heavyweight champion. He’s coming off his first career loss to the champion Francis N’Gannou.
The most likely opponent to headline this card with Gane would be the #4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. Since falling short to Derrick Lewis last year, Blaydes has won his last two fights putting his name right back into title contention. The winner of this fight most likely means a title shot for their next fight.
Nassourdine Imavov is due for a big fight and to co-main event in France would be huge for him going forward. Imavov is 3-1 in the UFC and his sole loss was to Phil Hawes, in a close fight that didn’t go his way on the scorecards. He was supposed to get a big fight on UFC 273 against Kelvin Gastelum, but VISA issues had Imavov pull out.
Gastelum is currently injured so that fight probably won’t happen. Darren Till would be a good opponent in this spot. He still has good name value, and is rightful for a co-main event. Till hasn’t won a fight since 2019, but has been fighting the best of the division. This is a good step down fight for Till and a possible coming out party for Imavov.
The warm-up going into the co-main event should see France’s own Manon Fiorot; a two-time French kickboxing and Karate champion. Ever since coming to the UFC last year, she’s gone 4-0 in the promotion. She’s currently ranked #6 in the flyweight division so she should fight the #5.
Ranked at #5 is Mexico’s Alexa Grasso. Grasso has won her last three and beat Joanne Wood last time out, while Fiorot beat Jennifer Maia. They are both coming off big wins and the winner here gets very close to a title opportunity.
Rest of the Main Card
Ilia Topuria vs. Giga Chikadze
What a fight this would be… Topuria is ranked much lower than Chikadze, but it would be a big fight for both guys. Chikadze is coming off a main event loss to Calvin Kattar, whereas Topuria is coming off a knockout win at lightweight against Jai Herbert. Topuria has been in need of a step-up in competition and Chikadze is exactly that.
Lerone Murphy vs. Charles Jourdain
Murphy/Jourdain was supposed to happen on two separate occasions before. Jourdain is coming off a big win recently against Lando Vannata. Murphy has yet to lose, including in the UFC as he’s 3-0-1 in the promotion. Both of these guys are fan-friendly in terms of their fight style, and both are the future of the featherweight division.
Taylor Lapilus vs. Marcelo Rojo
To open up the main card should be the return of Taylor Lapilus. Lapilus fought in the UFC from 2015 to 2016. He went 3-1 for the UFC, but his contract ran out and he never returned. Since his UFC stint, he’s gone 7-1. Lapilus is the current Ares FC bantamweight champion and another run in the UFC has to open.
A perfect welcome back opponent should be someone like Marcelo Rojo. “Pitbull” Rojo is in need of his first UFC win as he’s 0-2, but losses are to Jourdain and Kyler Phillips. Rojo is the type of guy that you really have to beat to get your hand raised in the end.
Mansour Barnaoui vs. Joel Alvarez
Mansour Barnaoui would be the most obvious choice to sign and have a debut for this card. It’s untelling where Barnaoui has been, not fighting since May of 2019. With MMA now legal in France, the market is wide open and Barnaoui is arguably the best prospect from there. He was last seen winning a million in Road FC and that’s probably why he hasn’t fought since.
If he is still fighting, he has to fight on this card. Possibly against Joel Alvarez… Barnaoui is already well-established, so there is no need to give him the slow build. Alvarez possesses a threat to just about anyone in the division and it will show how Barnaoui will do in the UFC moving forward. It would be a fantastic fight to headline the prelims.
Nathaniel Wood vs. Trevin Jones
Who doesn’t wanna see a fight between these two? Both guys are must-watch action fighters. Wood brings that savage fight style into the cage every time he fights. Jones has that lights out power in his hands. Jones is needing of a win coming off two consecutive losses. Wood just need to fight, since his last three bookings have been canceled.
Abdoul Abdouraguimov vs. André Fialho
It won’t be too much longer until Abdouraguimov in the UFC so why not have him compete on this card. Abdouraguimov is the Ares FC welterweight champion, a promotion owned by Fernand Lopez. Lopez is also his head coach and the coach of Gane as well. Abdouraguimov should be a no-brainer for this card. An ideal opponent is the always game Andre Fialho. Fialho who has been around for a while, has fought legit fighters for a long time now. It would show how good Abdouraguimov really is or move Fialho to an even bigger fight.
Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Bruno Silva
These are two big boys that love to throw down. It’s a fight that guarantees a barnburner as long as it lasts. In the most recent win, Barriault said in the post-fight interview he would fight on the Paris card. Silva’s only loss in the UFC was to Alex Pereira and it was a close fight. Between the two, they have twenty-nine finishes with all but one coming by KO/TKO.
Nicolas Dalby vs. Jack Della Maddalena
This would be a veteran vs. prospect fight. Dalby is a veteran of twenty-four fights, who fought eight times in the UFC and has more wins than Maddalena has fights combined. Dalby is 37 and has had an up-and-down career. Maddalena is one of the most promising welterweights, and came from the Contender Series. It’s a passing of the touch possibly, or maybe a vet lesson. Either way, it would be a fun fight.
Victor Henry vs. Danaa Batgerel
Victor Henry has fought all over the world, so he should add France to his list. Henry made his UFC debut last January and beat the very talented Raoni Barcelos. Batgerel did lose his last fight, but before that was riding a three-fight win streak with three first-round knockouts. Henry has a stellar resume that’s a bit underrated.
Fares Ziam vs. Jai Herbert
Ziam is from France, and being 2-2 in the UFC – he is in need of a win. Also in need of a win is England’s, Jai Herbert. Herbert is 1-3 in the UFC, but has had strong showings despite the losses. Both guys are primary strikers/kickboxers and this would be a favorable match-up for both guys.
William Gomis vs. Jamie Mullarkey
William Gomis is a stud prospect out of Paris, France. He already has a solid win over Tobias Harila and is scheduled to fight Damien Lapilus. That will go down June 25th for the Ares FC lightweight title. A win there and no injury should put him on a card like this. He’s a legit prospect, so you can give him a stiff test right away. Jamie Mullarkey is that dog that you want to test these young guys with on the come-up. This would be a great opener to the card.
See the full card below…
Heavyweight: Ciryl Gane (10-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (16-3)
MiddleweightL Nasrudin Imavov (11-3) vs. Darren Till (18-4-1)
Flyweight: Manon Fiorot (9-1) vs. Alexa Grasso (14-3)
Featherweight: Ilia Topuria (12-0) vs. Giga Chikadze (14-3)
Featherweight: Lerone Murphy (11-0-1) vs. Charles Jourdain (13-4-1)
Bantamweight: Taylor Lapilus (18-3) vs. Marcelo Rojo (16-8)
Lightweight: Mansour Barnaoui (19-4) vs. Joel Alvarez (19-3)
Bantamweight: Nathaniel Wood (17-5) vs. Trevin Jones (13-8)
Welterweight: Abdoul Abdouraguimov (14-1) vs. André Fialho (15-4)
Middleweight: Marc-Andre Barriault (14-5) vs. Bruno Silva (22-7)
Welterweight: Nicolas Dalby (19-4-1) vs. Jack Della Maddalena (11-2)
Bantamweight: Victor Henry (22-5) vs. Danaa Batgerel (12-3)
Lightweight: Fares Ziam (12-4) vs. Jai Herbert (11-4)
Featherweight: William Gomis (9-2) vs. (14-5)