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UFC Paris: Brutal body attack leads Ciryl Gane to a second-round TKO and lands him back in the title picture

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 02: (L-R) Ciryl Gane of France punches Serghei Spivac of Moldova in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Accor Arena on September 02, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Ciryl Gane (L) lands a left to the body of Serghei Spivac en route to a win by second-round TKO Saturday in the main event of UFC Paris at Accor Arena. (Josh Hedges/Getty Images) (Josh Hedges via Getty Images)

Ciryl Gane was on a mission Saturday against Serghei Spivac to wash the stench from his last performance, when he basically didn't show in a heavyweight title match against Jon Jones and got submitted quickly in the first round.

And while Spivac is no Jones — no one who has ever stepped foot into the Octagon compares to Jones, if we're being honest — Gane did what he needed to do and looked good doing it. He used a brutal body attack to soften up Spivac and stopped him with strikes at 3:44 of the second round at Accor Arena in Paris before a raucous crowd in the main event of UFC Paris.

It was kicks, punches and knees from Gane, most aimed at Spivac's fleshy midsection, as Gane reminded all who saw him why he won the interim heavyweight championship over Derrick Lewis in 2021.

Spivac's face was filled with welts, his left eye was closing, he had red marks all over his midsection and a lump on the left side of his ribcage looked as if Gane may have broken one of his ribs. Spivac wanted to get into a clinch and take Gane to the floor, but never came close to doing it.

"I'm really happy about that because I was on a mission," Gane said. "You all know my last fight was [bad], so today, it was a mission for me to prove I'm still here [among the elite heavyweights]. It was tough, the last one. But this time I was so glad to be back."

Gane is one of the UFC's most athletic heavyweights, and he's a terrific striker. According to UFC Stats, Gane landed 109 of 156 significant strikes against Spivac, connecting at a nearly mind-blowing 70 percent. Spivac was never going to beat this version of Gane, but he didn't give himself much of a chance. He basically didn't show and landed only 11 of 44 significant strikes, most of them as he was backing away from Gane.

Gane, who entered the fight ranked No. 2, was called out by Tom Aspinall, who is No. 4, after Aspinall's win in July. But Gane didn't express much interest in that fight.

He harbors dreams of fighting for the title again and said he'll be ringside in New York when Jones defends the title against ex-champion Stipe Miocic on Nov. 11 in the main event of UFC 295. The only other fighter who is ranked ahead of Gane is No. 1 Sergei Pavlovich, who is serving as the backup for the Jones-Miocic bout.

So Gane's immediate future isn't all that clear, but it's obvious that he's among the best in the world again. Spivac was ranked seventh in the division before the fight, but he never had a shot.

Gane's performance against Jones was so inept that it's not clear that UFC president Dana White will give him another shot after a win over Spivac. But it was a solid victory, and Gane couldn't stop smiling.

"This was perfect," he said. "Especially after my last one, this is what I needed to do."

Indeed.

And he did it, emphatically.