UFC Fight Night 226 – Cyril Gane vs. Sergey Spivak Main Card Betting Predictions

The UFC returns to Paris, France, where a host of local talent will compete on the world’s biggest proving ground. I like the card from a betting perspective and there are plenty of intriguing stylistic matchups.

Here are my main card MMA predictions.

Caolan Loughrane vs. Taylor Lapilus

I wasn’t high on Caolan Loughrane when I first saw him in Cage Warriors, but the young Irishman has developed into a solid prospect and you can see clear improvements from fight to fight.

His striking is a bit stiff and robotic, but he did a good job of keeping a tight guard, picking his shots and landing counters on Dylan Hazan in his last outing. He lists Petr Yan as a big inspiration for his striking and likes to fight on the front foot.

Loughrane trains under Mike Grundy and has a powerful double leg takedown. He is also an adept back taker and seems preposterously strong for a bantamweight.

I favored him against his previous opponent, but he now takes on a much tougher matchup in Taylor Lapilus at the last minute.

Fighting from the southpaw stance, Lapilus has an excellent understanding of distance and likes to snipe opponents as they come forward with his straight left. He has good footwork and should possess a speed advantage inside the cage.

The Frenchman has great balance and is difficult to take down, although he will need to be careful to prevent Loughrane from jumping on his back if he is grounded.

I’ll pick Taylor Lapilus to win, but I don’t see any value on his current price of -160. I’m expecting a competitive fight.

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Bogdan Guskov

I’m usually the type of handicapper that will side with a UFC veteran against an unproven newcomer, but not on this occasion.

Volkan Oezdemir has delivered some big knockouts over the years, but hasn’t looked great whenever fights get extended. I believe his power has carried him further than his skills.

The Swiss kickboxer throws haymakers at mid range and has some nasty low kicks, but there isn’t much depth to his game beyond that. His defense also goes out of the window once his energy depletes.

Bogdan Guskov is actually a former volleyball player, but has predominantly fought as a striker in his MMA career.

The Uzbek is a big puncher and has shown an ability to counter off the back foot. He also has devastating knees and uppercuts – which could be useful since Oezdemir is vulnerable to shots up the center channel (you can see this against Nikita Krylov).

I’m not sure how legitimate Guskov’s BJJ brown belt is, but he can wrestle opponents to the mat and has devastating ground and pound.

Word on the street is that Guskov consumes plenty of protein shakes, so he should be in top physical condition despite not having a complete training camp.

As a main sparing partner of Sharabutdin Magomedov, I don’t think this matchup will present any new challenges that Guskov hasn’t seen in the training room.

This is a volatile fight to bet on because of the unknown variables, but I have to side with Bogdan Guskov at plus money.

Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Thiago Moises

After three emphatic finishes in a row, Benoit Saint-Denis gets a rightful step up in competition in front of his home fans.

The Frenchman’s striking is raw, but he fights with supreme aggression and has good body kicks and elbows. Thiago Moises is a patient and methodical counter-puncher, so coming hot out the gates would seem like a smart decision for Saint-Denis.

Moises has a good head kick (which is more available to him in an open stance fight), but he’s not much of a power puncher – so I suspect he will get backed up against the fence and tied up in the clinch

I believe the grappling will be won by whoever is on top and I give Saint-Denis a better chance of hitting takedowns.

That said, Moises is extremely resilient and difficult to hold down. If the Brazilian keeps getting back to his feet, slows the pace of the fight and perhaps hits takedowns of his own – he could win a decision on enemy soil.

However, I still believe Saint-Denis will bring too much firepower, physicality and aggression inside the octagon and I’m picking him to win this fight.

I bet Benoit Saint-Denis last week around pick ’em odds, but I don’t think there is much value left at -165.

Manon Fiorot vs. Rose Namajunas

This is a peculiar decision for Rose Namajunas to move up to the flyweight division, because she wasn’t particularly physical for a strawweight and this is not a good matchup for her on paper.

Namajunas has developed into a skilled out-fighter over the years, with a stiff jab, nice lateral footwork and intelligent shot selection. Much of her development is thanks to Valentina Shevchenko – who shares some similarities with this current opponent.

The problem is, she does her best work at the range where Manon Fiorot is most dominant and I can’t see her winning the aggregate of exchange on the feet.

Fiorot is great at manipulating distance, throws powerful blitzes of punches and uses her lead leg side kick like a jab. The French athlete is also one of the most physically imposing fighters in the division and will not be easy to take down.

I actually think Fiorot is more likely to wrestle. She won’t want to get tied up in a prolonged grappling contest with Namajunas, but racking up some positional control at the end of rounds could provide a good optic for the judges.

That said, I’ve wrongly counted out Namajunas in the past and she has shown an ability to make in-fight adjustments and set the world alight with clutch moments. She wouldn’t have taken this fight if she didn’t think she could win and she has some smart people around her.

I’ll pick Manon Fiorot to win, but I’m not confident I’m getting a great deal at -170.

Cyril Gane vs. Sergey Spivak

Cyril Gane is the best heavyweight striker we’ve seen in MMA, but his grappling has not developed to the same level.

I’ll never forget his attempts to hit multiple kimuras on a powerhouse like Francis Ngannou and his critical error to drop for a heel hook in the pivotal fifth round. He was also thoroughly embarrassed by Jon Jones, who ducked underneath his cross, muscled him to the mat and quickly submitted him.

While he is in big trouble if he finds himself on bottom position against Sergey Spivak, I think he has a good chance of remaining vertical.

Spivak comes from a judo and sambo base and has excellent trips and throws from the clinch, but he’s not a guy with a superb open space shot.

Gane is perfectly capable of striking with the intention of denying the clinch to Spivak. The Frenchman must throw jabs to the body, chip away at kicking range and limit opportunities for Spivak to get his hands on him.

Spivak is excellent when he gets on top of opponents with slick transitions and mat returns, but his stationary boxing style makes him a sitting duck against a slick Muay Femur like Gane.

Cyril Gane is either going to look like a -500 favorite or a complete idiot. I think the former scenario is more likely than the latter, but I can’t be completely sure.