Ciryl, Nassourdine, William, Fares and Benoît. Some of these names may be unknown to you, and yet this Saturday they put France on the MMA map. Five Frenchmen on the fighting menu, five victories, almost all brilliant. The French public, who had robbed the tickets of the Accor Arena in ten short minutes and who exploded the box office record of the room, could not have dreamed of better. The icing on the cake, Ciryl Gane, now as much a public figure as a fighter, crushed Tai Tuivasa at the end of an anthology game.
A star and a star
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To the tune of “Haine et Sex” by Gazo, cheered by a delirious crowd, Ciryl Gane landed in the octagon as a rockstar. He had no choice but to win. However, it started timidly. He knew very well that Tai Tuivasa’s firepower could knock him out of the duel with a single hit. He also tasted it at the start of the second round and the public believed they had lost their champion. The light was clearly off at the “Bon Gamin” after a hook of which the Australian has the secret. We had never seen Gane in this posture, but he came back from the dead to show that he was the best in this cage.
Tai Tuivasa suffered the lightning of Ciryl Gane.
Credit: Getty Images
Better boxer, simply better fighter, he ended up installing his superiority. But god it took Tai Tuivasa a long time to fall apart. It took a good big salad of knuckles, a Van Damme high kick and a final hook to send him to the mat, bloodied by the dozens of strikes that preceded. A victory that sealed the fate of our country: we are now a nation that loves MMA.
Gane: “Doing MMA doesn’t require you to be mean”
His training partner, Nassourdine Imavov, passed just before under Parisian cheers, also shone. Usually so calm, the Franco-Dagestanais let his rage speak, the result of a trashtalk from Joaquin Buckley, his evening opponent, who had left him in rage. Anger he let speak in the first two occasions when he rolled over the American and made him bleed profusely. Buckley knew he was behind in the score and went wild at the end of the last round to get the knockout. He sent shivers through the assembly, but Imavov did not fall. The judges unanimously declared him the winner of the fight. Ranked twelfth in the world at middleweight, he can now look very far ahead to find his next opponent.
At the beginning of the evening, Bercy needed a little juice to start, a spark. Benoît Saint-Denis gave him a fireworks display. He opened the tricolor ball with his specialty: the pure and simple fight. With a kick to the body whose sound resonated throughout the room, he set the tone from the first seconds. Then he made Gabriel Miranda taste the ground three times in the first round. No impatience, the fourth was the good one. A right later, Miranda was on the ground and did not get up a fourth time. A second spectacular victory in a row at the UFC for “God of War”, bodes well for the future.
William Gomis has won his first UFC fight.
Credit: Getty Images
No time to get a refreshment, Fares Ziam took over. His contract terminated after an average first stint at the UFC, he was narrowly drafted to participate in the Parisian evening. And the American organization was not mistaken. Far from there. He literally dominated the Polish Michal Figlak head and shoulders. Or rather fists and elbows, which he distributed in quantity to win by unanimous decision.
… and a birth certificate
If a French fight was a little less electric than the others, it was that of William Gomis. But how can you blame him? A surprise signing at the UFC at 25, a first fight in the very big cage. His performance, at times a little dull but sufficient to beat Jarno Errens, will not remain in people’s minds. But more than picking up the win, he created an image that will remain in the minds of the French public.
Seconds from the end, his head was caught in a triangle of his opponent’s legs. Gomis gasped, the Accor Arena held his breath, he finally managed to get out of it by a mouse hole. “I heard the cries of the public. Rather die than give up. Here we are in Paris!”, shouted “the Jaguar” after the announcement of the judges’ results (victory by majority decision). A French fighter is born.
In Paris, France hit hard. Very strong. Four of the five French fighters who put on a show tonight are training in France. With French coaches, in French structures. We knew there was talent, but between saying it and seeing it in an octagon, there is a world. A world was crossed this Saturday, September 3.
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