Coming off a technical — but not particularly spectacular — five-round decision win over Alexander Volkov in June 2020, there were some serious questions as to whether Ciryl Gane could hang with a one-punch killer like Derrick Lewis. At UFC 265, which took place last night (Sat., Aug. 7, 2021) inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, Gane put those questions to rest, out-maneuvering Derrick Lewis for two rounds before putting the hurt on him, finishing the fight via some relentless ground-and-pound 4:11 into round three (watch highlights).
“Like I said before the fight, I wanted to push him, I wanted to make the pressure, and I wanted to go deeper,” Gane said in an interview with ESPN. “And we did it, and the finish was exactly what we expected.”
“It was [a masterclass],” Gane added during the UFC 265 post-fight press conference (watch it). “It was that. He touched me maybe one time, two times. He gave me a poke in my eyes. My vision was blurring for all of the fight. It was not easy to manage this, but I think it was a masterclass.”
“He never touched me. Every time, maybe 10 times, it was the right hand. He never touched me 100 percent ... because we worked on it. Because we expected it. And we did it well.”
As for his thoughts on the interim nature of the belt, Gane was clearly happy to hold gold, but also realistic about his standing in UFC’s Heavyweight division.
“I’m really thankful, I’m really happy. I’m really proud,” he said. “This is not exactly for me. This is for my coach, Fernand Lopez. Everybody knows the story with Francis [Ngannou]. He was really close to having the belt, and unfortunately he moved to Vegas. This is also for MMA Factory, my gym. This is also for the fans in my country. This is for my family. I’m so happy.
“I think I’m one of the best of the world now, I think this [interim] means something, so.... I don’t want to say [I’m the best] because the champion is still Francis Ngannou and I must to fight all the guys of the roster to be the best,” Gane concluded. “I think I need to prove — I just started, so I need a few years, and after that maybe I’ll say I’m the best.”
Despite media narratives trying to set the two former MMA Factory teammates up as enemies, Gane insisted there was no bad blood between the two.
“For me it’s just the sport. I just want to make the show, I just want to do a performance. This is my job, and I just want to make money with that.”
When that money will be made is less clear, as Gane is about to become a father for the second time.
“I don’t know exactly for the moment, I don’t want to think about that,” he told ESPN’s Megan Olivi. “I just want to enjoy the process. Yes, we’re going to do this fight, of course. This makes sense, 100 percent for the unification. But for the moment, no question on my head, I just want to enjoy the process, go back to France. I have my wife waiting for me, I’m waiting for a baby, she’s going to come in a few days, so!”
“Maybe at the end of 2021, it’s possible, yeah. I think it’s possible, I just want to take a little bit of rest because when you have a baby ... I already have a daughter, so to manage when it’s efficient to do a training camp, it’s a little bit hard to manage.”
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