Francis Ngannou is not the be-all-end-all for UFC 265’s Ciryl Gane.
Gane (9-0) will fight Derrick Lewis (25-7-0-1) in the main event of UFC 265, which will take place inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, on Sat., Aug. 7, 2021, streaming via ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). The winner will be awarded the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Interim Heavyweight title and, in theory, the next title shot at reigning champion Ngannou.
Ngannou’s hit-and-miss relationship with UFC appears to be on a down swing. Both he and his manager have had friction with UFC President, Dana White, over business practices. That story is weaved into the fabric of Lewis vs. Gane — after all, the Interim Heavyweight title fight was booked barely four months after Ngannou won the title from Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 (watch here).
The connections don’t end there.
Gane’s coach, Fernand Lopez, was formerly Ngannou’s coach. Despite the different facets of this story, Gane refuses to use Ngannou as a measure for his legacy. Gane tells MMAMania.com that his focus is an overall body of work.
“I don’t want one fight. I don’t want one fighter. I want to fight everybody,” he shares. “This is a sport to me. Every fight I’ve had I’ve fought with a good feeling, not with a bad feeling. I just want to put on a great performance for the fans. No matter who [I fight], I want to do my job.”
That being said, Gane refuses to fight anyone but Ngannou next with a win over Lewis.
“No, I think it’s going to be Francis for sure. If I beat Derrick and I have the [interim] belt, this is a ticket to be the [top] contender,” he says, shutting down the idea of defending his interim title against another contender. “No, no, no. I think this makes more sense.”
Less than three years removed from his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut, Gane is already challenging for a world title on the grandest stage. The undefeated MMA fighter also boasts a spotless 13-0 record in Muay Thai dating back to his 2014 debut.
But, Gane has already accepted the near-inevitability of defeat in the fight game.
“No, that’s not my target. That’s really not my target. Obviously, it’s better for business. But that’s really not my target,” he says of remaining undefeated. “Every time I go to the cage, every time I say, ‘Okay, I can win. But I can lose.’ Anything is possible. I don’t know what’s going to happen. So yes, I’m ready to lose. Seriously, I’m already proud of myself if I lose tomorrow. I’ve never lost in my life in MMA or Muay Thai, but I’m not afraid of that. I’m really not afraid of that.”
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