Ciryl Gane made a definitive statement last night by picking apart Alexander Volkov, and he set himself up on an undeniable path to both greatness and conflict.
Gane is going to be a champion, and that’s no bold prediction; even a couple fights ago the future seemed apparent. Barring significant disaster or early retirement, Gane’s immense, obvious talent and youth could only add up to a golden belt at some point in the next five or so years.
Kicking Volkov’s ass reaffirmed that Gane is great. He took apart a multiple promotion champion — one performing better than ever, in the prime of his own career! — as if it were no big thing. His other big win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik could be written off to a degree, as “Bigi Boy” is cautious and still inexperienced himself. Volkov is without those flaws, yet Gane largely styled on him for the better part of 25 minutes.
Gane is now 9-0 as a pro, 6-0 inside the Octagon, and 31 years old. He’s not just on the champion’s path but on its final leg. There is, however, a problem: Francis Ngannou.
Like Gane, Ngannou made it to the UFC extraordinarily quickly. Like Gane, Ngannou began his UFC career with six dominant victories to set himself up for a title shot. Last and most importantly, Ngannou is on the correct side of 35 ... just like his former team mate.
The two are destined to not only compete, but compete multiple times. Most likely, it happens late this year or early next year, after Ngannou earns his revenge over “The Black Beast.” Of course, this is Heavyweight, so maybe Derrick Lewis finds a way to win, but even then, Gane is a nightmare match up for the Texan, and Ngannou will be in the title mix and ready to capitalize on a fresh champion.
Regardless of who wins their eventual first meeting, the two will meet again. There are not enough contenders to prevent a rematch. Perhaps it ends there, but more likely we’re looking at a trilogy, particularly when one considers their shared backstory and just how much UFC likes to book instant title rematches.
It will be a battle of power vs. finesse.
Heavyweight MMA may not be able to match boxing’s great rivalries between big men, but there’s still historical precedent around two young talents duking it out for the future of their division. The eventual clash of French titans will stand as this generation’s Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos or Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
The rivalry will determine the best Heavyweight of the current generation.
The only potential caveat that comes to mind is Curtis Blaydes. Ngannou may have proven himself a poisonous match up for Blaydes, but there still exists a possibility that Blaydes can throw Gane on his head and deny him all his slick kickboxing. The youngest of the three standouts, Blaydes should not be forgotten.
He’s not guaranteed the “Cro Cop” role just yet.
For complete UFC Vegas 30: “Gane vs. Volkov” results and play-by-play, click HERE!