The crowd at Accor Arena in Paris for Saturday’s UFC card was terrific from start to finish. And in the main event, Parisian Ciryl Gane gave them what they came to see with a brilliant performance in a third-round TKO victory over Tai Tuivasa.
Gane survived a second-round knockdown by the Australian slugger, in which Gane said he was out, to stop Tuivasa at 4:23 of the third.
All night, Gane was using his kicks to hurt Tuivasa. He began firing at the legs, but he brought them up as the fight played out and was eventually hurting Tuivasa badly to the body.
The finishing sequence began when Gane unloaded a kick to the midsection that sent Tuivasa stumbling backward. Gane landed another kick and then showed his brilliant athleticism, resetting his feet and cracking Tuivasa with a big right hand.
Tuivasa went down and Gane was right on him, forcing referee Marc Godard to stop it. It was a brilliant performance by a brilliant athlete.
Tuivasa, though, never quit and his grit, his chin and his punching power made it one entertaining battle.
When it was over, though, all Gane could do was thank his countrymen who were in a full-throated roar as he spoke from the Octagon.
“No words. No words,” he said. “Nobody on this planet expected this from France. Look at this. I’m so happy. If anyone had doubts about how good a French crowd would be, there are no doubts any more. The crowd was absolutely amazing.”
As was the fight between Gane and Tuivasa. It was a pitched battle and they went at it hard.
In the second, Tuivasa caught Gane with a right hand to the cheek, sending Gane down and Tuivasa going in for the kill. But Gane got up and landed several body kicks which hurt Tuivasa and regained the momentum for him.
It was a good thing because he probably couldn’t have taken another shot to the head at that point.
“Tai hit me so hard, he knocked me out,” Gane said. “He put the lights out. I had to be a warrior and come back stronger.”
Tuivasa simply wasn’t big enough or athletic enough to keep up with Gane.
“It wasn’t my day, but I always come to fight,” Tuivasa said. “He’s a warrior. Good on you, brother.”
Good on both of them for a hugely memorable heavyweight fight.