Ciryl Gane picked up his sixth UFC win on Saturday with a controlled and technical striking performance. The French fighter, who is 9-0 overall, dominated Alexander Volkov on the way to a unanimous decision win in the main event of UFC Vegas 30.
Gane might have his detractors because his “safe” approach to fighting runs counter to the type of competitor the UFC likes to promote, but that doesn’t mean he is someone to overlook. Gane entered his matchup as the No. 3 ranked fighter in the official heavyweight rankings and it’s doubtful that he will fall from that perch. He might even hear his name mentioned as a potential title challenger.
In the co-main event, Tanner Boser, who was on a two-fight losing skid and coming off a June 5 split decision setback to Ilir Latifi, scored a second-round knockout win over former light heavyweight title challenger Ovince Saint Preux. The stoppage was not without controversy.
Ciryl Gane: Ciryl Gane might have put himself in the heavyweight title conversation with his win over Alexander Volkov. The only thing that might prevent Gane getting that shot is his style. Gane is a controlled fighter. He picks his spots, doesn’t put himself in danger and slowly and efficiently breaks down his opponents. His style might boring to some, but I don’t fall into that camp. I enjoy watching Gane work. He seems relaxed, and it’s exciting to watch his confidence grow with each second of fight time. He has rocketed up the heavyweight rankings and I think it’s safe to say that with his technical style he is a legit threat to the heavyweight crown, even if the UFC doesn’t want to admit it.
Tanner Boser: Tanner Boser carried the first round against Ovince Saint Preux because he was the busier fighter. Saint Preux picked up his offense in the second round when he scored a takedown against Boser, but Boser worked to his feet after he changed his position via using his knuckles on the fence. Once on the feet, Boser landed a nasty knee to Saint Preux’s head and followed that with a combo of punches. The question of the alleged fence grab will overshadow the finish, but Boser did not interlace his fingers in the fence and he earned a big win over Saint Preux.
Timur Valiev: Timur Valiev didn’t land many more significant strikes than his opponent, Raoni Barcelos, but he pressed the offense more than Barcelos, who was happy to allow Valiev to lead the dance and then counter. With a majority decision win it seemed as if the judges awarded Valiev more points for his offense in what was named “Fight of the Night.”
After the win, Valiev was vocal about his expectations.
“Sean (Shelby), give me (the) toughest guys in the division. Toughest guys in the division, I’m going to kill everybody on my way, let’s go. Put me (against) the top-15, please.”
Tim Means: At 37, Tim Means is on his longest UFC winning streak since he scored four straight victories in 2014-15. Means made it three straight on Saturday with a win over Nicolas Dalby. Means fought a smart, unemotional contest against Dalby. He mixed up his techniques and when things went bad for him in the third stanza, Means slowed things down and tied up Dalby against the cage. Means seems like he has found a second life after a 5-6-0-1 that spanned nearly five years.
Renato Moicano: After his win over Jai Herbert, Renato Moicano told UFC commentator Daniel Cormier, “I fall in love with boxing. And this is dumb s***. If you are good at grappling, stay with wrestling and grappling.”
Moicano used that wrestling and grappling to score an impressive submission win over Herbert. He showed incredible patience on the mat. He never overextended himself or put himself in danger, and he dominated the entire contest. When the opening presented itself, Moicano teed off with strikes and then secured a rear-naked choke. An impressive win for Moicano.
Bonus points for Moicano for saying he was going to use his win bonus to pay off his house.
Kennedy Nzechukwu: Kennedy Nzechukwu spent the first 10 minutes of his fight opposite Danilo Marques looking pretty well outmatched. He had zero to offer Marques when it came to the grappling sequences. However, those techniques emptied Marques’ gas tank and that left him open to the strikes of Nzechukwu, who came out fast in the third stanza and used that striking to score a comeback TKO win.
Shavkat Rakhmonov: Some will be quick to dismiss Shavkat Rakhmonov’s submission win over Michel Prazeres because of the size difference, but that is a lazy take. Rakhmonov showed a lot of positives in this contest and there’s a lot to like about the 26-year-old who moved to 14-0 with the win. His first UFC fight was a submission win over Alex Oliveira in October. Hopefully he can get another fight rather quickly and keep raising his profile and experience in the welterweight division. Whenever Rakhmonov gets that next fight, make sure to tune in.
Marcin Prachnio: Ike Villanueva caught Marcin Prachnio early with an uppercut and that seemed to shake up Prachnio. After that strike Prachnio was awkward with his punches, ducking his head as he entered. However, once his kicks found the mark, Prachnio adjusted and fought from distance. He unloaded with kicks to varying targets. It was those kicks and a switch to southpaw that won him the fight after he blasted Villanueva’s liver and shut him down.
Julia Avila: Julia Avila bounced back from a decision loss to Sijara Eubanks with a third-round submission win over former Invicta FC champion Julija Stoliarenko. The loss was the first submission setback for Stoliarenko. After the win, Avila broke down in tears about what she had achieved after getting kicked out of her gym in March. The win should give her some confidence that things are going in the right direction.
Charles Rosa: Charles Rosa, a member of the UFC since 2014, got his fifth win with the promotion on Saturday when he earned a split decision over Justin Jaynes. Rosa is now 5-5 in the UFC and he has alternated wins and loses throughout his career with the promotion. He was the smarter, more well-rounded and better fighter on Saturday, but I don’t know how much a win over Jaynes moves him up the featherweight rankings.
UFC: This was not the first event where the UFC put a “milestones” graphic on the broadcast, but this little touch is a nice addition to the broadcast.
Tanner Boser’s Knuckles: Despite Cormier’s adamant shouts that Boser grabbed the cage to help him on his way to a knockout win over Ovince Saint Preux, the replay appeared to show that Boser used his knuckles against the cage and never put his fingers through the fence. First, this leaves me impressed with the strength of Boser’s knuckles and second, this makes me wonder if we are going to see the fence grab rule expanded and perhaps become a little more detailed.
Alexander Volkov: On paper, Alexander Volkov should have given Ciryl Gane a stiff test at UFC Vegas 30. With his massive experience advantage and the high-profile names he’s faced, the former Bellator and M1 Global champ should have been a challenge for his less experienced opponent. He wasn’t. Volkov did well with his leg kicks, but outside of those strikes, Gane patiently and systematically broke Volkov down for the win. With losses to Gane, Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis over the past three years, Volkov might find himself serving as the gatekeeper of the top five in the heavyweight division. That’s not a terrible position to be in, but it will most likely put him out of the title mix for quite a while.
Ovince Saint Preux: Ovince Saint Preux has lost his past two fights by knockout and with how slow to get things going in his fight against Tanner Boser, it’s not hard to imagine Saint Preux being released by the promotion. He’s 3-6 since 2018 and four of his losses have come by way of stoppage.
Raoni Barcelos: Raoni Barcelos was very effective with his counters against Timur Valiev, and he scored two knockdowns during the second stanza. However, he was on the wrong end of the majority decision. In the scrap’s aftermath, Barcelos, who saw a nine-fight winning streak end, has to wonder if he would have walked away with the victory had he followed his second knockdown with more ground strikes or if he would have been awarded the win if he led a little more. Barcelos can’t feel too good about this loss.
Daniel Pineda: Before his fight opposite Andre Fili ended via an accidental eye poke, Fili was working Pineda over. The one positive Pineda had was powerful low kicks. Other than that, Fili ran over Pineda.
Jai Herbert: Jai Herbert showed some good striking against Renato Moicano. The problem with that was Herbert’s takedown defense was nearly non-existent and that cost him the fight.
Danilo Marques: Danilo Marques opened his bout against Kennedy Nzechukwu in impressive style, but his grappling heavy style left him with no energy after the first two rounds and the strikes of Nzechukwu stopped him early in the third.
Michel Prazeres: A matchup against the much taller and longer Shavkat Rakhmonov did not go well for Prazeres. He tried to move in and out quickly on the feet and that did not work. He tried to work in close, and that failed as well. When Rakhmonov sunk in a rear-naked choke, Prazeres tapped out for the first time in 30 professional bouts.
Isaac Villanueva: Ike Villanueva had success with his boxing early in his fight against Marcin Prachnio, but that did not last long as Prachnio decided that working at distance was better for him. With that Prachnio took apart Villanueva with nasty kicks. Without the ability to use his boxing, Villanueva was at a disadvantage.
Julija Stoliarenko: Julija Stoliarenko did not like the strikes she absorbed from her opponent, Julia Avila, but she couldn’t do much to stop Avila’s attacks. Stoliarenko is a grappler above all and she needs to work on that aspect of her game if she wants to have success at the UFC level.
Justin Jaynes: I questioned the decision making of Jaynes heading into this bout. In the lead up to the fight, he announced his plan to put his entire fight purse on the line at the betting window. I questioned his thought process more when he had Charles Rosa on skates in the third round and went for a takedown. Jaynes lost the fight — and his pay — via a decision.
Yancy Medeiros: I would never suggest a fighter use Yancy Medeiros’ game plan in this fight, but it nearly worked for him. That plan? Get beat up for 10 minutes and then pursue the finish when your opponent tires of landing strikes on you. Medeiros’ style made for a fun bout against Damir Hadzovic, but Medeiros still walked away with a loss.
Jason Herzog: Referee Jason Herzog made the right call in allowing the Tanner Boser vs. Ovince Saint Preux to continue after an alleged fence grab, but he made a mistake right after Boser changed position by using his knuckles in the fence when he put his hands on at least one fighter. I don’t think that contributed to the outcome of the contest, but that could have been a confusing moment for the competitors.
Daniel Cormier: After Andre Fili poked Daniel Pineda in the eye, Daniel Cormier mistakenly said, “you can let the five minutes expire before you call the fight.” Cormier, perhaps confused by the clock on the screen of the broadcast, was wrong in the assumption that fighters get five minutes to recover from eye pokes. They do not. Fighters get five minutes to recover from low blows.
I will give Cormier credit for correcting his mistake during the main event, but more often than not when the broadcast team makes incorrect statements regarding the rules or scoring, they fail to correct those errors and that hurts the fans, fighters and the UFC.
UFC commentators: Julia Avila was expected to face Julija Stoliarenko on March 20, 2021, but that fight was scratched on weigh-in day after Avila passed out on the scale. The UFC moved the bout to UFC Vegas 30 and Avila made weight for the contest.
The discussion of the postponed bout included the following exchange:
“Honestly on the scale, when she fell down, I remember I was doing my show right after (the fight) and I said, ‘oh, it’s not that big a deal,’ and people kind of got on me. But she said it herself, right? It wasn’t that big of a deal. She made the weight effectively yesterday.”
Cormier and Paul Felder then joked about passing out from weight cuts.
“We’ve all passed out a time or two,” quipped Cormier. “Get somebody that can catch you, they know when you’re about to go.”
Cormier seems to forget that it was weight cutting that prevented him from competing on the Olympic wrestling team in 2008 when his kidneys shut down during a weight cut.
Further, I find it hard to fathom that those who have had family members die from weight cutting would consider it “no big deal.”
NSAC/UFC: The fact that the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC have no problem with fighters betting on themselves is a problem. It’s surprising that it’s allowed because it should bring up questions of potential fight fixing in the sport. Let’s not forget, there was a fight fixing scheme in 2017 that landed a fighter in prison.
Andre Fili: Andre Fili was delivering one of the finest performances of his UFC career when an accidental eye poke left his opponent, Daniel Pineda, unable to open his eye. With that, the doctor waved off the fight in the second stanza and referee Herb Dean declared a no contest.
Fili was on point with his striking. He blasted a head kick that left Pineda cut and looked close to finishing things with a nasty liver kick. Between that contact, Fili put Pineda to the mat with an impressive throw.
Fili said he thought he was on his way to finishing Pineda. That might be true, he was, without a doubt, in control and dominating the contest until the foul brought things to a close.
Damir Hadzovic: Damir Hadzovic opened with calf kicks hoping to slow his opponent, Yancy Medeiros. That approach worked, but the problem for Hadzovic was Medeiros hung in there and took all the strikes Hadzovic offered. Medeiros’ strong chin allowed him to stay in the fight and by the start of the third round, an exhausted Hadzovic ceded control of the fight to Medeiros. Hadzovic won via decision, but he could not sustain the pace he set in the first two rounds and that is a concern going forward.