Monday, August 15, 2022

Ciryl Gane Explains Benefit Of Break Since Loss To Francis Ngannou

Former interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Ciryl Gane is preparing to return to the Octagon for the first time since Francis Ngannou added the opening blemish to his professional MMA record.

At the January 2022 pay-per-view, tension was high as Ngannou, entering the final fight of his active deal, bet on himself in a big way. While initial success on the feet for Gane at UFC 270 looked to suggest that the Cameroonian was on his way to a significantly weakened position in his contractual dispute with the UFC, “The Predator” evolved.

After catching Gane’s leg and capitalizing with a takedown, Ngannou employed wrestling-heavy offense across the final three rounds, an adjustment that helped him record a unanimous decision victory in Anaheim.

Since the unification showdown, neither man has been seen in the cage. While the champion underwent surgery to repair ligament damage he’d sustained weeks before his fight with Gane, the Frenchman turned his attention to some outside-the-Octagon ventures, including a public sporting appearance that saw him swap MMA gloves for soccer boots for a charity game.

Now, while Ngannou continues his recovery on the sidelines, Gane is set for his chance to rebound, and it could come in some style. “Bon Gamin” will headline the UFC’s French debut in September when he shares the cage with Tai Tuivasa in front of a home Parisian crowd.

While an eight-month gap between fights isn’t exactly lengthy, it represents Gane’s longest layoff from the Octagon aside a year away between 2019-2020, which saw the COVID-19 pandemic wreak havoc across the globe and prevent many international fighters from competing.

During a recent interview with MMA Junkie’s Farah Hannoun, Gane discussed his break from action. Having fought 11 times since making his professional debut in 2018, the 32-year-old was appreciative of the time off given that he’s always been in a “rush.”

“Not really (would I have liked to fight sooner). Because I knew already UFC wanted to do this in September. I was already prepared in my mind to wait for September,” said Gane. “And after (UFC 270), I had a lot of pressure, a lot of solicitation of the media, a lot of feeling with this fight with Francis, something like that.

“All my career, I was in a rush, you see? I started just four years ago, my career in MMA. I started a little (over) three years (ago) in the UFC, and it’s all I did. I was always in a rush,” Gane continued. “So, to have a few months like that, a few more months like that, this has maybe helped me to be better for my next fight.

Gane Explains How Mindset Towards Ngannou Rematch Has Changed

While Gane’s period on the sidelines has helped him to improve as a fighter ahead of his next appearance in the cage, it’s also caused an adjustment to his mindset.

Soon after his defeat to Ngannou, the Frenchman had a chance at redemption on his mind. At the UFC 270 post-fight press conference, Gane admitted that he hoped “The Predator” would sign a new deal with the promotion so that he could have his rematch with the heavyweight king.

“If he leave like that, I don’t want that,” Gane said. “I want my rematch. I want to do this fight a second time. I want this fight. I want this rematch.”

That sentiment was also shared by Gane’s manager, MMA Factory chief Fernand Lopez, who pitched the rematch for the promotion’s first France-held card.

But after some time away from the wild world of mixed martial arts, “Bon Gamin” has had a slight change of heart. For the Paris native, the goal is the gold, no matter who it’s in the possession of.

“I’m okay (if I never fight Francis again). There were a few months where, yeah, it was a little bit (like), ‘No, I want Francis.’ But anyway now, I just want the belt. This is my goal,” said Gane. “I just want to go to the top. No matter if it’s (Curtis) Blaydes or Stipe (Miocic) or (Jon) Jones or Francis, anyway.”

With Ngannou’s injury and uncertain future, the heavyweight division is somewhat up in the air right now. As talk of Jones’ heavyweight debut coming in an interim title bout with former champ Miocic persists, Gane is targeting a shot at the possible interim belt with a victory over the fast-rising Tuivasa.

And given how France’s leading MMA practitioner has shut down powerhouses Derrick Lewis and Jairzinho Rozenstruik inside the Octagon, he’ll likely enter UFC Paris as the heavy favorite on September 3.

Would you like to see Ciryl Gane and Francis Ngannou share the Octagon again down the line?

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