UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is one of the most feared fighters in the sport due to his incredible knockout power, but his next opponent Ciryl Gane says he’s not intimidated by that ahead of their big showdown at UFC 270 on January 22nd.
“This is not scaring me,” Gane told Submission Radio. “You see with Derrick Lewis, he had big knockout power too. Derrick Lewis is a beast too. But it was not a problem. When you look at the fight, I stayed inside like that with his punches. It was not a problem. A heavyweight like me, I can punch too like that with a big transfer But no, it’s not a problem for me. This is really not scaring me.
“I’m really confident in myself. When I started in Muay Thai too I was like that, because every fight in my career, in front of me, it was a man more experienced than me. Every time. And that’s why I was really confident that everything is possible, and I did it. So, today I think I have my chance too. He has his qualities, his strengths, I have mine. And we will see in January who can make his game plan better than his opponent.”
Gane certainly has plenty of reasons to be feeling good about his chances, not least because he’s currently undefeated in his 10 fight career, having already defeated a number of dangerous opponents like the aforementioned Lewis, Alexander Volkov, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Junior dos Santos on his way to a title shot.
Gane also has the benefit of being a former training partner of Ngannou’s, and given that he says the champ went 100% in training, he has a fair idea of what he’s getting himself into, although he’s not putting too much stock in it.
“I remember the first sparring we did, I was like, okay, this man likes to punch really hard,” Gane said. “And he punches for real. Like, even when it was just sparring, he liked to punch really hard. And I was really happy about that, because for me it was really great for me to comparing myself with Francis. Because when I started MMA, he was already in the top five. So, it was really great for me to compare myself, my level.
“It’s not a secret. Everybody knows what his strength is, everybody knows what it is. Having that big knockout power, everybody knows that. So, it’s not a surprise. It’s exactly the same at the gym, during the sparring sessions. So, yes, this has helped me a little a bit to know who he is, but it is not a surprise. I have Fernand Lopez. He was his coach too. So, this maybe helps me more than nothing. So no, nothing special. This short session of sparring we did helped me just for my experience, not to know for this future fight. No, not really.”
On top of that, Gane also pointed to his speed and fight IQ as important factors that could help him get the better of Ngannou.
“Sometimes the power – and I hope it’s going to be the same for me (laughs) with Francis – but sometimes when the guy is really quick, really smart, every time you have the solution. So, I hope it’s going to be the same for me, and I think this helped (Tyson Fury) Gypsy for real…. and I hope I’m gonna fight very well like Tyson Fury.”