Ciryl Gane reacts to Francis Ngannou’s UFC exit, expects he will be tougher fight for Jon Jones
Cyril Gane didn’t know Francis Ngannou was leaving the UFC when he tweeted a message targeting Jon Jones and a possible fight between them.
However, just days later, Gane received word that he will face Jones at UFC 285 on March 4 to crown a new UFC heavyweight champion. The promotion was unable to come to terms with Ngannou on a new deal and released him from all contractual obligations, making him a free agent.
“Everybody knows the situation with Francis and Jon Jones,” Gane explained when asked about his tweet at the UFC Vegas 67 post-fight press conference. “How long will we wait? How many times will we wait? So hey guys, here we are. I think it was a great decision. Twenty-four hours later, we received wonderful news. I’m really, really happy.”
Gane, who once considered Ngannou a teammate and training partner early in his MMA career, doesn’t know what the former heavyweight champion will do next, much less what led to free agency .
Ngannou’s exit also seemingly diminishes any chance Gane has of a rematch after losing to “The Predator” by unanimous decision at UFC 270. None of this seems to bother Gane, as he has his career to worried.
“Maybe three days after the fight against Francis, after I lost, I waited forward,” Gane said. “I saw from the future.
“I’m not in his head. I don’t know what his plan is. I know he wants to move, he wants to push the UFC, [UFC President] Dana [White] AND [UFC COO] Hunter [Campbell], he has posted on Instagram some pictures with another organization, some stuff with boxing with Tyson Fury. Maybe he wants to move. I don’t know exactly, but it’s not my concern.”
For months, it appeared Ngannou was on a collision course with Jones as the former UFC heavyweight champion plotted his course to conquer a second division after running at 205 pounds.
Now, attention shifts to Jones vs. Gane. The French heavyweight believes he presents a much different and potentially more difficult challenge than Ngannou.
“I know I did good work on my feet at the start, I think I’m a bit stronger [than Ngannou]”, said Gane. “I look a bit more like Jon Jones. Yeah, when you have a big guy who just wants to kill you with one punch, it’s easier for a tough, smart guy like Jon Jones to handle the situation.
“I’m not like that either. I like to manage the situation. It’s going to be great.”
In many ways, Gane is still learning on the job. He didn’t make his MMA debut until 2018, seven years after Jones became UFC champion for the first time.
When it finally started, Gane admired Jones’ talent as the former heavyweight champion became one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. Facing someone like Jones is exactly what Gane has always wanted, and he is buzzing with anticipation as he prepares for their match in March.
“When I started watching this, Jon Jones was one of my favorite fighters,” Gane revealed. “More so when I started MMA, because I’m a fan of every sport in MMA, and when you see a guy like Jon Jones, who’s complete like that, you really appreciate it. He is the goat. Look at his career.
“Today, I’m a young fighter and I think it’s every young fighter’s dream to fight a goat. That’s really crazy to me.”
The main event at UFC 285 also serves as Gane’s second chance to become the undisputed heavyweight champion after coming up short in his previous bid against Ngannou. He also has the opportunity to hand Jones the first legitimate loss of his career (the only current loss on Jones’ resume came via disqualification in a fight against Matt Hamill that Jones was dominating), which would also be a feat of great.
When asked which one means more to him, Gane could only smile.
“Both will help me grow my career and both are really exciting,” Gane said. “That’s a great question. both. Because I’ve never had this belt and because the fight against this guy is going to be really crazy.”