The calendar may read Labor Day weekend on Saturday, but even though it’ll be the last major holiday of the summer, it doesn’t mean a rest for MMA’s hardest-working fighters, as after a weekend off, the UFC will be back in action this week for UFC Paris and the UFC Paris co-main event.
Saturday’s event (main card 3 pm ET/ noon PT on ESPN+ after prelims at noon ET, 9 am PT) will be a noteworthy show for the UFC because it’s the promotion’s first visit to France since MMA was officially legalized by the French National Olympic and Sports Committee two years ago.
Upon the legalization of the sport in France, the French Boxing Federation (Federation Francaise de Boxe) was selected to initially oversee MMA events in the country, and although Bellator MMA held one of the first events in France after its ban was overturned, the UFC hadn’t set foot in Paris until this coming weekend.
Top Two Contenders at Middleweight To Collide in UFC Paris Co-Main Event
Paris looks to be getting two good fights at the top of this week’s UFC Fight Night, beginning with the UFC Paris co-main event.
In Saturday’s co-headlining fixture, the top two combatants at 185 lbs. will square off in the famed UFC Octagon when No. 1 contender Robert Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC) takes on No. 2 contender Marvin Vettori (18-4-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC).
The UFC Paris co-main event will be an advertised maximum of three rounds at five minutes per round.
UFC Paris Co-Main Event Fighter Comparison
Entering the UFC Paris co-main event on Saturday afternoon, both Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori stand level in height at six feet even.
Marvin Vettori owns a half-inch reach advantage (74 inches even to 73 1/2 inches) over Robert Whittaker, with the latter having a two-inch leg reach advantage (43 inches to 41 inches) over the former ahead of the UFC Paris co-main event.
A Fight Delayed
Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori were initially slated to have fought each other on June 11 during the main card of UFC 275 on pay-per-view before the contest was postponed ahead of the show amid Whittaker sustaining an injury.
Subsequent to the postponed fight from June, the pairing was rescheduled and rebooked for this Saturday and the UFC Paris co-main event.
Former Champ Robert Whittaker Looks To Shake Off Defeat to Adesanya in UFC Paris Co-Main Event
Despite the loss, the former champion believed he’d performed well enough to reclaim the strap from Adesanya, as he told Daniel Cormier following the fight.
“I don’t know, I started off rocky in that first round,” Whittaker began, “but I feel like I took every round after that. It is what it is, but you know what they say, ‘Don’t leave it to the judges.’ I mixed it in well. I fought my heart out. I’m happy that I fought my heart out, that I left it here, but I’m gutted. I’m gutted. I thought I did enough. I thought I took that.”
With a victory on Saturday in the UFC Paris co-main event, Whittaker could find himself back in the championship conversation, so can he turn it around here?
Tune in and find out.
Marvin Vettori Comes Off 10-Month Hiatus
In the other corner, Marvin Vettori enters the UFC Paris co-main event having gone 4-1 in his last five fights, most recently defeating Paulo Costa via unanimous decision on Oct. 23 of last year during the UFC Vegas 41 headliner.
A universal storyline coming into this bout on Saturday is the fact that Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori saw their hiatuses from the Octagon extended by the earlier postponement due to injury, with Robert Whittaker having been sidelined more than six months before stepping into the cage this weekend.
Vettori’s hiatus will be even longer before he enters the UFC Octagon Saturday, as due to the reschedule, he hasn’t fought in slightly over 10 months time ahead of the UFC Paris co-main event.
The question here for Marvin Vettori and his camp is an obvious one:
Just how much ring rust does their fighter have?
The answer will come soon enough.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC Paris co-main event seems to favor Robert Whittaker, a freestyle wrestler who owns black belts in Hapkido, Goju-Ryu karate, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Marvin Vettori’s brown belt in BJJ.
Robert Whittaker Can Be Vicious With Punches
One aspect of Robert Whittaker’s fight game that shows up on video is his ability to punch his way to a victory, as was the case five years ago against Jacare Souza in UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City.
In the second round of a scheduled three, Robert Whittaker opened the period with a nasty right-handed punch to send Souza down, peppering him with some ground and pound shots before backing off and returning to his feet.
Upon Souza getting back up, Whittaker scored with an uppercut before landing a head kick followed by another punch.
As the round progressed, Whittaker took full advantage of a now-gassed Souza by utilizing his footwork advantageously and throwing feints to keep Souza honest.
With under two minutes remaining in round two, Souza began to wobble, leading to Whittaker going in for the kill by landing a vicious kick to the head and a straight right punch to send him down, leading to a flurry of ground and pound shots before Mario Yamasaki saw enough to call off the fight.
If Robert Whittaker lands punches in bunches on Saturday to wear Marvin Vettori down, the UFC Paris co-main event could be his.
Marvin Vettori is Great at Submissions
In the other corner, Marvin Vettori has been known to be a submission hunter, which Karl Roberson knows firsthand from their fight at UFC Vegas 2.
Although the co-main event that night was slated to be a three-round affair, Vettori shut things down in less than one period.
Early on in the fight, the men traded two-punch combinations before going to the clinch.
While in the clinch, Roberson took Vettori down and nearly scored a submission before Vettori fought out of it, scoring a takedown of his own to take control of the fight, softening him up with left-handed punches from top mount.
From there, he attempted to lock in a guillotine choke submission, forcing Roberson to scramble his way out of it, turning the fight into a ground war where both fighters had to ward off submissions through scrambling.
Marvin Vettori retook top mount and landed another slew of ground and pound shots to eventually sink in a rear-naked choke with 43 seconds to go in the round.
Watch for Marvin Vettori to shoot for the takedown in the UFC Paris co-main event on Saturday, because if this one goes to the cage mat, Vettori has the upper hand.
This looks to be an extremely entertaining fight on Saturday, so be sure to watch the UFC Paris co-main event.
Who do you think will win?
Let us know in the comments.
Prediction: Robert Whittaker by Unanimous Decision.
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