At UFC Fight Night 209, Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) put away a very tough Tuivasa (15-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) with strikes at 4:23 of Round 3 – much to the delight of his home country crowd.
The first round was timid, despite the loud French national anthem sung by the fans in attendance. Both men were heavy on leg kicks. Gane utilized a lot of footwork as many expected. He bounced around the cage as Tuivasa slowly prodded forward, reluctant to waste any energy.
Things exploded in Round 2, however. After he was sliced open by a Gane strike, Tuivasa dropped the former interim UFC heavyweight champion and pounced. Follow-up shots glanced, but the tables quickly turned when Gane countered with a series of body shots. Knees, punches, and kicks caused Tuivasa to wince. The two fighters swung wildly and both clocked the other, as they staggered forward and backward.
An already deafening French crowd somehow got louder during the fray and the subsequent pump-ups from the fighters. In Round 3, things got a little wild once again. With Tuivasa severely injured by the accumulation of massive body shots, Gane targeted the head. A right hand stunned Tuivasa, who turned sideways. A series of hooks floored the big Australian to the canvas.
Tuivasa ate some shots on the way down as Gane fell on top of him – and referee Marc Goddard on top of Gane. Accor Arena hit a new decibel in response.
“No words, no words, bro,” Gane told Michael Bisping in the cage after the win. “Just listen to that. Nobody on the planet expected this from the fans of France, bro. But look at this. I’m so happy about this, bro.”
The immediate title picture of the UFC heavyweight division is unclear with champion Francis Ngannou in late stages of injury recovery. Ngannou’s management CAA has claimed his promotional agreement will end in January (per ESPN).
Others in the title conversation include former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who nears three years away from action due to contract disputes as he transitions to heavyweight. Both sides have indicated Jones is ready to compete again, but nothing has been booked.
Meanwhile, former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic has not competed since was violently knocked out by Ngannou at UFC 260 in March 2021. Miocic and his wife had a child months later and he has not fought since.
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Gane, 32, bounces back from his only professional MMA loss to date. At UFC 270 in January, he was defeated by former training partner and current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision.
Tuivasa, 29, enters the loss column for the first time since October 2019. In a major turnaround, Tuivasa rattled off five wins prior to UFC Fight Night 209 – a streak has come to an abrupt end.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 209 results include:
Ciryl Gane def. Tai Tuivasa via knockout (punches) – Round 3, 4:23
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.