(Reuters) – Former UFC interim heavyweight champion Cyril Gane put on a clinical display of striking to beat Serghei Spivak by technical knockout as the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion returned to Paris’s Accor Arena on Saturday.
In the co-main event, Manon Fiorot of France won a unanimous decision victory in her flyweight clash with American Rose Namajunas to put herself in the title picture after three tough rounds that saw both fighters sustain injuries.
Almost a year to the day after Gane closed out the UFC’s first show in France with a third-round knockout of Tai Tuivasa, the local favourite was back to top the bill again, this time against a dangerous grappler in Moldova’s Spivak.
However, the Frenchman’s fluid movement and slick striking enabled him to stay out of Spivak’s clutches and he landed a heavy knee to his opponent’s midsection midway through the first round.
The 32-year-old Gane, who lost a heavyweight title fight to Jon Jones in March, continued to work the body in the second round and Spivak crumbled, causing referee Marc Goddard to step in and stop the fight with 1:16 to go in the second round.
“I was so glad to be back in here in front of all of you. This is where I belong,” Gane told the crowd in a post-fight interview.
Stepping up 10 pounds into the 125-pound weight class in the co-main event, Namajunas took on the third-ranked Fiorot looking to make a name for herself in a new division but her attempt to get into the title picture was derailed in a bloody battle.
Former straw-weight champ Namajunas injured her right hand early in the first round and a clash of heads late in the second opened a cut that left blood coursing down Fiorot’s cheek and neck as the two fought to put themselves into title contention.
The American switched to a southpaw stance to protect her damaged hand but Fiorot still edged the victory on the judges’ scorecards.
After the fight, Fiorot asked to take on the winner of the upcoming flyweight title fight between current champion Alexa Grasso of Mexico and former belt-holder Valentina Shevchenko.
“Absolutely, I’m the one to take on one of these champions, and I deserve a shot at being the champion,” she said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)