Ngannou will make his first title defense against Gane, a former teammate of his while they were at MMA Factory in France. He’s been at an impasse with the UFC brass amidst an ongoing contract dispute but is ready to defend his belt at the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2022.
Ngannou and Gane have had a bit of an interesting buildup to their fight. The two had an awkward run-in backstage at UFC 268, and Gane recently downplayed the champion’s trademark knockout power.
“I think Francis did a lot these last years, and he proved he improved and he’s more intelligent,” Gane said in an interview with BT Sport. “And that’s great. He’s well-rounded now. And I think it’s gonna be more like that. Because he (knows) I can manage the power. I think he knows I can manage the power.”
During a recent interview with MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn, Ngannou responded to Gane’s remarks and thinks his prediction was a bit forced.
“That’s probably his prediction because he has nowhere else to go,” Ngannou said.
“He has nothing else to do. Instead of expecting to jump around and waiting for the decision, I’m sure he’s going to be like, ‘I’m going to take him to the long rounds, the deep water’ and all this. That can be his only prediction, which could be very contrary of my prediction, which is knocking him out.”
Francis Ngannou Vs. Ciryl Gane Wasn’t Expected To Happen Next
Gane earned the title shot after winning the interim heavyweight title over Derrick Lewis at UFC 265. He was able to stifle Lewis on the feet and control the pace of the fight, eventually earning a TKO finish.
Ngannou was widely expected to face Jon Jones for his first title defense after earning the belt over Stipe Miocic. The UFC then targeted a matchup between him and Lewis, but contract negotiations stalled as Ngannou asked for more money.
The Ngannou vs. Gane matchup pits two of the most elite strikers in MMA against one another. If Ngannou were to lose to Gane, his UFC future could be uncertain as he would then enter free agency.
What is your prediction for Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane?