The UFC has touched down in France this week for the first time, and heavyweight and middleweight title contenders are at the top of the card.
UFC Fight Night 209 takes place Saturday at the Accor Arena in Paris. The card streams on ESPN+.
(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)
In the heavyweight main event, Paris’ own Ciryl Gane (10-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC), a former interim champion, takes on the streaking Tai Tuivasa (15-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who has won five straight by knockout. Despite Tuivasa’s great run of late, Gane is a huge -650 favorite at Tipico Sportsbook; the comeback on Tuivasa is +420. All but one of our 11 editors, writers, radio hosts and videographers are taking Gane to get back on track after his loss to champ Francis Ngannou in January. (Despite that, our readers’ picks have the fight as the most contentious.)
The co-main event features the return of former middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (23-6 MMA, 14-4 UFC) after a loss to champ Israel Adesanya. He’ll take on recent title challenger Marvin Vettori (18-4-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC). Whittaker is a -230 favorite at the betting window and has a big 9-2 picks lead.
Also on the main card, Alessio Di Chirico (13-6 MMA, 4-6 UFC) meets Roman Kopylov (8-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) in a middleweight bout. The fight is almost a pick’em at Tipico, but our staff members have Di Chirico with a hefty 9-2 lead in the picks.
Nasrat Haqparast (13-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) takes on John Makdessi (18-7 MMA, 11-7 UFC) in a lightweight bout that is one of those pre-ordained Fight of the Night-type matchups. Haqparast is a -240 favorite and has a big 8-3 edge from our pickers.
UFC newcomers Jarno Errens (13-3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and William Gomis (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meet in a featherweight bout that has Gomis as a -230 favorite. He doesn’t have a blowout in the picks, but still has a 7-4 nod from our staff members.
And to open the main card, Charles Jourdain (13-5-1 MMA, 4-4-1 UFC) takes on Nathaniel Wood (18-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at featherweight in Wood’s second fight in the weight class. Jourdain is a -155 favorite, but our staff pickers have Wood bucking the odds with a 7-4 lead.
In the MMA Junkie reader consensus picks, Gane (52 percent), Whittaker (82 percent), Kopylov (58 percent), Haqparast (70 percent), Gomis (79 percent) and Jourdain (58 percent) are the choices.
Check out all the picks above.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.