Tuivasa falls as Whittaker wins UFC bout

·3-min read

With reigning UFC champion Israel Adesanya so far indifferent about a trilogy fight, Australia's Rob Whittaker's next move could be in the boxing ring.

Whittaker returned to the Octagon for the first time since losing his second fight against the seemingly peerless Kiwi Adesanya.

The 31-year-old showed his class with a dominant points win over tough Italian Marvin Vettori in the co-main event fight.

Another Australian, heavyweight Tai Tuivasa also headlined but was knocked out by Frenchman Ciryl Gane in the third round in front of a raucous home crowd in UFC's Paris debut.

While the victory positions Whittaker for a third crack at regaining his UFC middleweight belt from Adesanya he has also fielded a big-money offer from Aussie cruiserweight world champion Jai Opetaia.

The boxing champion's camp told AAP that talks were continuing about a million dollar mega fight in Sydney next March.

"Rob hasn't fought in Sydney for seven years so it would be a huge homecoming fight for Rob against the No.1 cruiserweight in the world," Opetaia's promoter Dean Lonergan said on Sunday.

With UFC making its first appearance after the end of the ban on cage fighting in France, the arena was packed with the crowd singing and chanting, particularly with their home town hero in the Octagon.

They got the result they were after with Tuivasa's fight stopped 4.23 minutes into the third round after an onslaught of body shots and then blows to the head saw the Aussie go down.

But No.1 contender Gane didn't have it all his own way against third-ranked Tuivasa.

In a frantic second round that almost lifted the roof, Tuivasa landed a huge right hand that felled Gane.

It only seemed to steel Gane, who continued to do damage with his big body kicks which took their toll in the third round, ending Tuivasa's five-fight winning streak.

Gane said he had to dig deep against the brave Tuivasa.

"Honestly, Tai hit me so hard, he knocked me out. He put the lights out ... but I had to be a warrior, I got up. I came back even stronger and got the win," Gane said.

Tuivasa recovered to pay tribute to Gane, who suffered his first UFC loss in January against Cameroon's Francis Ngannou.

"It wasn't my day, but I come to fight. He's such a warrior," Tuivasa said.

Whittaker's bout was much more low key, comfortably taking the three-round win in a unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.

The first round against Vettori was tight as both fighters tested each other but the 31-year-old Sydneysider grew in stature as the bout continued.

Mixing up his attack Whittaker took it to Vettori, who bravely withstood the punishment including some heavy kicks to the head.

While Vettori landed some solid jabs, Whittaker walked away with his face virtually unmarked to extend his UFC record to 25-6.

Whittaker said he was "stoked" with his performance.

He said he had respect for Vettori, which was behind his decision delay their original April fight when he suffered an injury at training.

"That's why I had to push back the fight the first time because I needed the fitness to be able to hurt him the whole, he did not go away," Whittaker said.

"I know I go to a lot of decisions, but I hit pretty hard.

"I was hurting him, trust me I hit pretty hard."