Behind The Tale Of Tape: How Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane Can Settle Feud At UFC 270
The first UFC pay-per-view of 2022 is almost here.
Headlining UFC 270 will be the heavyweight title fight between reigning champion Francis Ngannou and interim titleholder Ciryl Gane.
Ngannou comes in as the well-deserved favorite. He has dominated the heavyweight division for the past four years, winning his last five fights by knockout.
His former training partner, Gane, will come in as the underdog, but the former Muay Thai champion has been regarded — by many analysts — as the prime candidate to end Ngannou’s dominant reign in the division. The analysis has been given credit due to the leaked sparring videos between the fighters.
In the footage, Gane seems to get the better of Ngannou.
Fernand Lopez, the man in charge of Ciryl Gane’s camp and former head trainer for Ngannou, said that the footage was pretty accurate for how the sparring sessions went and revealed that Gane gave Ngannou a knee to the liver that hurt the champion making him stop the fight.
Lopez and Ngannou are not on good terms, and both have spoken to the media about each other.
A very highly anticipated matchup between giants for the undisputed heavyweight championship will make for a great fight. The two will meet each other in the octagon at the Honda Center in Anaheim California on January 22. Let’s get to know how these heavyweight giants got here.
Gane was born in the French commune of La Roche-sur-Yon. He is also of Guadalupian descent through his father.
“Bon Gamin” was always an athlete growing up. The 6’5 Frenchman played basketball and football in his youth. A friend from a work study introduced him to Muy Thai. His combat career would soon flourish.
Gane made his debut in November of 2014. He would go on the become a Muay Thai National Champion amassing 13 -0 record in the 201-pound division.
During that time, Gane would meet Fernand Lopez, who introduced him to MMA.
Gane made his heavyweight MMA debut on August 2, 2018 for the Canadian MMA promotion, TKO.
He defeated Booy Sullivan in the first round by submission. In 2019, he made his UFC debut on August 10, 2019, defeating Rapheal Pessoa by submission.
The 31-year-old currently holds a 10-0 record in his MMA career with his last fight resulting in a TKO victory over Derrick Lewis to become interim heavyweight champion of UFC.
Ngannou has come a long way.
He was born and raised in Batie, Cameroon. His parents divorced at a young age, so he was sent to live with his aunt.
The French Cameroonian grew up living in poverty having very little education. The opportunity to join a gang was higher than finding economic opportunity. Due to his family struggling finances he worked in the sand mines in Batie.
He looked up to Mike Tyson as a child, being enamored with his punching power and his counterattack ability. That admiration would fuel his passion for the sport of boxing.
When he was 22, he took up boxing but soon had to stop training due to illness. At age 26, frustrated with the direction of his life and wanting a better one, he packed his belongings and made the 3,100-mile journey from Cameroon to France.
He traveled alone. He had no friends, no family, no money, and no place to live.
All he had was a desire to become a great boxer and he would fulfill it by doing all he could.
“It won’t happen if you don’t try,” he said. “I said to myself to give some time to my dream. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going to try.”
His perseverance and resolve were tested.
He was sleeping on the streets of Paris with no money or job. One day he stumbled into MMA gym instead of a boxing gym by mistake. His 6’4 260-pound frame was noticed by a lot of people in the gym. One of those people being coach Fernand Lopez who agreed to teach Ngannou to box even though he had no money to give him.
Lopez saw talent in the young man and wanted to see his athletic potential fulfilled.
In November of 2013, “The Predator” made his MMA debut for French promotion, 100% Fight, winning via armbar submission in the first round.
He would make his UFC debut on December 19, 2015 against Luis Henrique knocking him out in the second round. The knockout would be one of many.
As the man who looked up to Mike Tyson now was punching like him.
Ngannou has 12 of his 16 wins via knockout including his revenge title victory over Stipe Miocic, knocking him out in the second round to become UFC heavyweight champion.
His wins over Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes have created a great resume for him and why he is considered by many to be the arguably the best fighter in MMA.
Both fighters know each other, trained with each other and have been in the same camp. There is a familiarity between these two massive athletes, but they also share world class athleticism and power.
No one has exemplified punching power in the UFC as much as Ngannou. The man who tried to emulate Tyson’s fighting style as a kid is now the same size as an NFL defensive end (6’4 260lbs).
To go along with his size is the 83 inch reach he has and the unrivaled punching power he uses to give his opponents soul crushing blows.
Look at this left hook versus Overeem. He hits him on the chin and Overeem immediately is out without question.
Gane is not a flashy fighter, but he is a great athlete and is smart. His technical skills, composure, ground game and conditioning make him the perfect threat for “The Predator.”
Ngannou does not always fight disciplined, he is prone to throwing haymakers, if Gane can weather the storm, get him tired and possibly take him to the ground then we will have an upset and a new undisputed heavyweight champion.
If the leaked footage from the sparring session is an indication of how this fight will go, Gane can pull the upset. But a sparring session cannot simulate the energy of a championship fight in the octagon against the hardest puncher in the UFC.
Gane has a legitimate chance to win, but as the old saying goes, if you come for the king you best not miss.
You can watch UFC 270 on Saturday, January 22 on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.