In the opening pay-per-view main event of 2022, then-interim titleholder Gane and reigning heavyweight king Ngannou met for a blockbuster unification showdown.
As well as their own brief history training together at Paris’ MMA Factory gym, narratives surrounding the champ’s feud with Fernand Lopez, his desire to meet Tyson Fury in the boxing ring, and his ongoing contractual dispute with the UFC loomed large over the event.
While Gane had started strong, taking the opening two rounds with his evasive and technical striking on the scorecards of most fans and pundits, it was Ngannou’s strength and imposing top game that saw the final three frames fall in his favor.
But despite spending many minutes on his back in the later rounds and failing to overcome the champ’s wrestling, Gane believes he was “better” in all aspects beyond power.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, “Bon Gamin” suggested he displayed better technique on the feet and on the ground, citing his ability to prevent Ngannou’s ground-and-pound and submission attempts as evidence.
“I think I was better with my striking, and I was better on the ground game too,” said Gane. “Because if you see, he catch me and kick me. It was difficult for him to do some ground-and-pound or some submission because my technique is good, you see? And it was more about the power and the plan.
“He used the power for the wrestling. Unfortunately, it was about two seconds when he catch me just on my ribs, behind my ribs,” added Gane. “After that, it’s more complicated to go out with the power of Francis, that’s why I went down. After that, he leave his body on me. He don’t do too much. This is respect for him still because he don’t need to do much… It was just a little mistake. For me, I was better on the striking (and) on the ground game. But, for me, I know this is a little bit strange to say, but I was better on my wrestling too; if you compare the technique. That’s why I’m okay (with the loss).”
Gane: Herb Dean Should Have Stood The Fight Up In The 5th Round
Despite his disappointment and belief that he edged most realms of the fight, Gane has consistently given credit to Ngannou for executing his game plan.
While he continued to do that during his conversation with Ariel Helwani, the Frenchman did suggest referee Herb Dean perhaps should have stood the pair up during Ngannou’s lengthy period of low-activity top control in the fifth round.
“When you have a big guy like Francis on your chest, if you want to go away, if you want to stand up, that’s not a good plan; to push the guy (up like a rep),” said Gane. “I don’t want to do that with Francis. So I was waiting for a good position to stand up. That’s what the regret is more like, the referee in the fifth round. The referee, for me, he take his time to stand up the fight a little bit.
“I looked, I connect the eye with the referee like, ‘Okay, let’s go, let’s go, stand up please, look.’ So that’s why this is a little regret. But he (Ngannou) did very well. Congratulations to Francis,” concluded Gane.
While it’s uncertain whether or not the pair will meet inside the Octagon again or if Ngannou will share the cage with anyone else in the UFC, it would certainly be interesting to see how Gane would go about adjusting to deal with the one area he believes led to him falling short at UFC 270: Ngannou’s strength and power.
What did you make of Ciryl Gane’s performance against Francis Ngannou at UFC 270? Do you agree with the Frenchman’s assessment?