Ciryl Gane may have gotten one step closer to another title shot, but the UFC heavyweight champion wasn’t that impressed.
Gane took out rising contender Tai Tuivasa in the third round by KO of UFC Paris’ main event. It marked his eighth win out of nine appearances under the UFC; his sole loss came from Francis Ngannou, the current heavyweight champion.
“I know he’s a great fighter,” Ngannou said on the ESPN+ post-fight show.
“It’s hard to respond to that question for the guy that I beat – if I’m impressed with him. He’s here for a reason. I fought him for a reason because he was probably the No. 1 contender. Yes, he’s good, but I’m the champ. Yeah, so it’s really hard to be impressed.”
— UFC (@ufc) September 3, 2022
Gane and Ngannou fought back in January – Ngannou’s last fight before sustaining a knee injury prior to the anticipated pay-per-view event. Gane looked like he could have had enough to upset the champion, but Ngannou recorded a comeback victory by putting his wrestling skills on display.
Ngannou won by unanimous decision. Gane was the first Frenchman to become an interim champion.
On Saturday, Gane’s victory didn’t come too easily.
Tuivasa knocked down Gane in the second round, becoming the first person to ever do that to him. Gane ultimately recovered.
“That fight was very electric, though,” Ngannou said.
“There were good actions in the fight. At some point, you see the fight was half-half and then it switched back to Ciryl’s side, which is what I thought. As far as distance, he’s good at controlling that and he was able to apply that in the fight tonight. You can see the body [shots], that’s what got him the victory. It was just like strategic, technical type of fight.”
As for Ngannou, he’s still recovering from his surgery. He said he doesn’t have an “exact” timeline for his return, but it’ll most likely be in 2023 at the earliest.