Expected as the fight of the year, a clash of titans from the MMA Factory in Paris opposes Saturday in Anaheim (California) the Cameroonian Francis Ngannou, world heavyweight champion UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), to the French Ciryl Gane, challenger meteoric rise.
UFC 270. The date has long been marked in red on the calendar of mixed martial arts fans and specialists around the world. But for France and all of Africa, the poster between Gane and Ngannou takes on additional importance when it comes to promoting a sport that is growing in popularity.
“It’s one of the most important fights of the year and even without a doubt in the history of the UFC”, thus summed up to AFP Lawrence Epstein, general manager of the most important professional league in the world. .
Especially since the duel between Ngannou, nicknamed the “Predator”, (1.93 m, 113 kg, 16 wins, 3 losses) and Gane, known as the “Good Kid” (1.93 m, 111 kg, 10 wins ), is preceded by a common history linking the two fighters. What “feed a good + storytelling + to raise the sauce”, by the Frenchman’s own admission.
Because, before really measuring themselves in the cage, the two crossed paths for a few training sessions, three years ago, within the MMA Factory, the factory for champions located in Paris and co-founded by Fernand Lopez, who cornered one and now coaches the second.
– Verbal contest –
The latter occupies an even more central place as he has been lending himself for several months to a verbal contest full of resentment and animosity with his former foal.
Ngannou, whom Lopez took under his wing in 2013 when he was in dire need, opted to leave France and the MMA Factory behind, moving to Las Vegas in 2017 to reinvigorate his career. For two years, he continued to train between France and the United States, before finally cutting ties with Lopez in 2019.
A winning choice since he became world champion last year at the expense of the American Stipe Miocic.
On Wednesday, the Cameroonian announced the color for the fight against Gane which he considers “not more important than the others” and which he assures that it “will end in a KO in the 2nd round”.
The Frenchman on the contrary considers that this meeting is “the most important” of his career, while showing a rather disconcerting relaxation. “The fight is highly anticipated. It’s a bit special, strange and funny at the same time. I appreciate knowing that I’m arousing so much excitement, but it’s also a surprise for me, since I’m brand new in that world,” he told AFP.
– Power against technique –
First practicing Thai boxing between 2014 and 2018 (13 wins, no losses), the Vendéen has only three and a half years of MMA behind him. And his trajectory in the UFC was meteoric since he became interim champion last year by beating the American Derrick Lewis, making him the first Frenchman to win a belt in the prestigious league.
But it’s not THE belt, the one that can definitely make him go down in history.
“Interim champion doesn’t make me the best. Today it’s Francis and if I want to be that guy, I have to beat him,” said Gane, 31, whose technique and mobility will be assets in the face of Ngannou’s overpowering.
The Cameroonian will see his contract with the UFC come to an end after this fight, with no guarantee of being extended. Because he feels he is not being paid his fair value, which strains his relationship with Dana White, the league boss.
Also, he expressed the desire to turn to English boxing, which offers higher fees. Tyson Fury, WBC heavyweight champion, did not wait to challenge him on social networks.
“Him boxing Fury? His power means anything could happen. But he should be more worried about what happens on Saturday night. That’s one of the problems when you start to spread apart. Ciryl Gane, up and going hungry,” White advised her.