It always behooves the champ to keep an eye on the division around him. Pay attention to the matchups, watch the fights; after all they never know when someone might make themselves a contender for the crown. When the upper echelon of a weight class is populated by fighters who’ve already had their chance at glory and failed, however, it’s no surprise if things feel a little less interesting.
Given a chance to talk about this week’s upcoming UFC Paris Fight Night event, middleweight king Israel Adesanya gave his thoughts—not just on the heavyweight main event between Tai Tuivasa and Ciryl Gane, but also on a battle of familiar foes Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori. On a recent episode of the Blakamoto & Oscar Show, Adesanya made it clear that ‘The Italian Dream’ vs. ‘The Reaper’ isn’t exactly a bout to get his blood flowing. Mostly because he’s already fairly sure who will walk away with the win.
“I’m excited for the main event. The co-main event, I’m excited for as well—actually, I’m not,” Adesanya said when asked about the fights (transcript via MMA Mania). “I’m not gonna lie. I’m not gonna bullshit you guys and give you the P.C. answers. I’m not actually excited for the co-main event.
“I’ll watch it. Meh. I know who’s gonna win. Rob’s gonna win so that’s why it’s not exciting for me. But, the main event, I don’t know who’s gonna win and I like Gane but I love Tai. That’s my dog.”
Having faced both men twice, ‘The Last Stylebender’ is in a unique position to judge the potential dynamics of the fight. He’s also pretty much right in line with the betting lines, which see former middleweight champion Whittaker as a solid, if not quite commanding favorite, sitting in the -225 range to Vettori’s +185 underdog.
A bit ironically, Gane is a much larger favorite in the main event over Tuivasa. The Frenchman is sitting at a healthy -560 line to Tuivasa’s +400.
Adesanya is currently preparing for a November 12th showdown against former kickboxing foe Alex Pereira at UFC 281. Pereira bested Adesanya twice in the ring, the second time via a crushing third round knockout. Despite their shared history—and thanks largely to Adesanya’s remarkable success in his run to UFC gold—the City Kickboxing talent is still a narrow favorite to retain his belt this fall. Oddsmakers have the New Zealander sitting at about -170 to the Brazilian’s +140 underdog line.
UFC Paris goes down this Saturday, September 3rd, at the Accor Arena. Alongside the main and co-main event, the card is expected to feature middleweight bouts between Alessio Di Chirico & Roman Kopylov, Abusupiyan Magomedov & Dustin Stoltzfus, and Nassourdine Imavov & Joaquin Buckley.