Ciryl Gane came into UFC 265 as a sizable favorite and put on the performance of a lifetime against hometown hero, Derrick Lewis. While slapping the interim title on the fight drew a lot of well-deserved flack in the lead up, the bout was a solid booking by the UFC brass.
If Lewis would’ve won, fans would’ve seen the slick-talking KO king rematch against maybe the only man who hits as hard as him. With Gane winning, we get not only an intriguing matchup, but one that’ll likely headline the UFC’s first card in France.
For those not in the loop, until recently, mixed martial arts was banned in France. After countless setbacks and years of lobbying by UFC, Bellator and other promotions, they lifted the ban on January 1, 2020. Bellator became the first major promotion to spill regulated blood on Parisian soil in October 2020.
Now, with not only MMA legal, but the UFC garnering a new TV deal in the nation, it’s a no-brainer that the promotion will rush there, as Dana White put it at the UFC 265 post-fight presser, “ASAP.” Speaking on Gane’s thrashing of Lewis at the presser, White also suggested that, “F—king Vince (McMahon) couldn’t have wrote (sic) a better script for this whole thing. It’s beautiful.”
Dana White is right. We have the perfect challenge for the promotion’s first foray into France.
The Good Kid and The Predator
Francis Ngannou immigrated to France from Cameroon when he was 26. Then, the Cameroonian, who had nothing, slept on the floor of the gym at the MMA Factory. After his loss to Stipe Miocic in 2018, Ngannou would have a falling out with the gym and leave, but not before putting in many rounds with the French native, Gane.
Gane downplays the “training partners turned enemies” angle. It doesn’t seem that there is any actual bad blood between the two, but we have to think that Ngannou — who won the title in March of this year — seeing “Bon Gamin” walk out of the arena with gold strapped to his waist may ignite something in “The Predator.”
Despite how each fighter feels towards the other, the UFC will surely use the training partners’ angle in all the promos. Which is fine. Promoters are going to promote, but we don’t need all the behind-the-scenes hype for this one. It’s a battle that sells itself.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of each combatant, this heavyweight unification match is billing itself as speed vs. power. Finesse vs. ferocity. Of course, this isn’t wholly fair. Both men pack the power to end the fight. Ngannou showed a more calculating approach in slinging his leather-wrapped lunch boxes at Miocic in their second bout; but at the end of the day, we have one the most technical guys on the heavyweight roster facing off against a man who has given us some of the fastest and most savage knockouts in UFC history.
Gane opened as a slight favorite over Ngannou after his UFC 265 win, but in the last couple of days, odds have shifted to dead even at -110 for each fighter. Which makes sense. While Gane is undefeated and has looked nearly perfect thus far, Ngannou has the more high-profile wins and the experience advantage. The lines will shift as the money comes in and the fight looms on the horizon but it’s hard to imagine one man being a huge favorite in this one.
So now, we wait. In a dream world, the fight would materialize at the end of 2021. But crossing international waters and this pesky global pandemic that won’t seem to go away could keep the bout at bay for longer. When we do see Gane and Ngannou locked in the cage, undoubtedly, the eyes of the world will be upon the behemoths.
Let’s just hope it goes better than the first regulated bout to take place there.