Anaheim, CA — Interim heavyweight champ Ciryl Gane enters a title unification bout with Francis Ngannou at UFC 270 this Saturday, knowing that he’s about to take potentially the last step in his rise to the top of the sport of MMA.
There’s been a lot of hype around the bout, and a bit of controversy, with sparring footage of Gane and Ngannou, who for a time shared a team, released into the wild.
“Yeah it’s a little bit crazy, but this looks a little bit like the end of something, you see. The last step, like I like to say,” Gane (10-0) told media outlets including Cageside Press during Wednesday’s UFC 270 media day. “I’m really excited, I’m in a good mindset, really healthy, we are really ready, in shape, and yeah, we have a lot more hype around this fight, and that’s absolutely normal, but I’m really comfortable with that.”
Gane trains out of the MMA Factory under Ferdinand Lopez, a camp Ngannou departed in 2018, reportedly clashing heads with Lopez on paying the gym’s annual fee, among other conflicts. In a way, Ngannou leaving the camp made things easier for Gane, at least for this fight. “If Francis had stayed in the gym, it would have been a little bit more complicated, because we’re still sparring together, so we know each other even more than that,” he noted. “Yes, 100% it probably be really difficult.”
Many have framed Saturday’s heavyweight title fight as a match-up of technique (Gane) versus power (Ngannou). Gane himself sees it as more than that. “This is not just only the power against the technique. Not only the power, he has Fight IQ, so he’s technical,” Gane observed. “I’m more technical than him, and I have power also, you see. So this is not exactly the power against the technique — but we will see. We will see.”
As interim champ, however, Gane cedes the “Baddest Man on the Planet” title to Ngannou. “I’m the interim champion, I’m not the champion, I’m not the best guy, I’m not the baddest guy in the world,” he acknowledged. “Today it is Francis, and if I want to be this guy, I must beat Francis.”
As the same time, being able to bring the interim belt to France, showing it to the public, “I felt the people are really proud about that,” Gane stated. MMA was only recently legalized in the country; Gane is its first UFC title holder. “This is not the champion, but this is the interim champion — this is something, this is not nothing. This is special too. To bring this in my country, we were a little bit surprised because there were a lot of people.” Gane said they hadn’t organized anything big, but the turnout came nonetheless. “This made me really happy. This made me really happy.”
Should he take that “last step” on Saturday, Gane has an idea of who he wants next: Jon Jones.
“This will be a pleasure. If tomorrow I win against Francis, then I want to fight Jon Jones. This is the next one. A lot of people talk about that already, because we are maybe the [most] well-rounded guys in this division, and the people talk a lot about a technical fight. It will be probably a good match-up, so yes, if it’s possible, we’re going to do this.”
Ciryl Gane faces Francis Ngannou at UFC 270 on Saturday, January 22, 2022 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. More coverage from Wednesday’s media day can be found below.