Paris, France — Christmas, New Years. “The feeling is exactly the same,” heavyweight Ciryl Gane said on Thursday ahead of UFC Paris.
The Paris card is a historic one for France, and a big moment for Gane (10-1), a former UFC interim heavyweight champion. With the country having legalized MMA just a few years ago, the promotion holds its first French show on Saturday night. Bellator may have beaten them to the punch, but Gane is a bonafide star, mobbed by fans a day earlier at the event’s open workouts.
“I didn’t expect this kind of audience, really,” Gane admitted during the UFC Paris media day. “This was a big surprise, and I’m so happy to have these kind of fans. Really, I’m really happy and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Gane has been paired up with Tai Tuivasa, the hard-hitting, fun-loving Australian on a five-fight win streak. That’s an opponent Gane knows poses a threat, but he believes his “Bon Gamin” style can neutralize it.
“He is really dangerous, and everybody knows this. He’s proved it, he’s on a good run. He’s finished every opponent, he’s really dangerous in his striking, so I must be focused.”
At the onset of his MMA career, Gane was essentially fighting in exile due to the French ban on mixed martial arts. He took fights in Canada, competing three times for Quebec-based promotion TKO before arriving in the UFC. Back in those days, Gane never expected to one day be headlining a massive fight card at home, in a reportedly sold out arena. “No, we didn’t expect that,” he told Cageside Press.
As Gane pointed out, other promotions have arrived in France already, and the French fanbase has had “an education on what is MMA.”
“Now we are a country of MMA for sure. Now there is no question on, ‘it’s too violent.’ No, this is the past. Now, we are a country with big fighters in MMA. I proved it, Francis [Ngannou] also, and Nassourdine [Imavov], William Gomis today. We have a lot of good fighters in France.”
Watch the full UFC Paris media day appearance by Ciryl Gane above. The event takes place this Saturday, September 3, 2022 at the Accor Arena in Paris, France.