Ciryl Gane has given his thoughts on his upcoming interim heavyweight title fight against Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 on August 7th, and Francis Ngannou’s reaction to it.
The UFC shocked the MMA world earlier this week by announcing the interim title fight between Gane and Lewis, sidelining Ngannou, who won the heavyweight title only three months ago at UFC 260, when he knocked out Stipe Miocic in the second round.
Ngannou and his manager Marquel Martin have slammed Dana White and the UFC for booking the interim title fight in August, when the reigning champion had agreed to fight Lewis in September.
Ciryl Gane Knew Beforehand
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Gane, who’s coming off a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Volkov last month at UFC Vegas 30, revealed he knew before his fight that something big was around the corner for him.
“Before the [Volkov] fight we knew that,” Gane said. “The UFC sent a message to [my coach] Fernand Lopez and he told me, ‘My man, do your job tonight and after this fight, you’re gonna have some good news.’
“When we arrived in France on Monday, we got a message from the UFC about that fight for August. We knew about it, but if you don’t have the contract, it’s not official, but when we knew about that, I stayed very focused against Volkov because we had to win that fight to have the chance for the title shot. So I was really focused and we did it.”
Although the offer came as a bit of a surprise to Gane, as the UFC had originally planned for Ngannou to defend his title against Lewis, he is still happy to have the opportunity to fight for the title.
“It was awesome, I was really happy,” Gane said. “For me, it means something. I’m a young guy. I’ve just arrived and I’m in the headline [spot] after just three years in MMA. I was a little bit [surprised] because we thought it would be Francis against Derrick Lewis, but Francis wasn’t free for the fight in August so they chose me.”
Ngannou and his team are clearly upset over how things have played out, but Gane said that ‘The Predator’ shouldn’t be too distraught as he is still the champion.
“I can understand [where Francis is coming from] but [I don’t feel bad for him],” Gane said. “It’s just an interim title, so the champion is still Francis. Not really [feeling bad] for Francis. If I was Francis, this would be nothing for me.”
Derrick Lewis Is ‘Dangerous’
While his ultimate goal is to fight for the undisputed title, Gane said that he can’t afford to underestimate Lewis, who has shown time and again that he’s the king of upsets.
“This guy is very dangerous, we know that,” Gane said. “Like Jairzinho [Rozenstruik], a little bit, when this guy touches you just one time, you’re down. And that’s very dangerous, but I think we’re gonna manage that style, touch him, and he’ll never touch me. I think I have the skills to do that.
“Yes, [I’ve been impressed with him] because some people say he doesn’t have fight IQ, doesn’t have some skills. But he knows what he has, and he can use it very well. I think this guy is really dangerous. But I think we’re gonna pressure him like we did Volkov. We’re gonna make it [so he’s] in deep water, I’m gonna give him a lot of pressure.”
Should he win the interim title, Gane said that he would like to unify the title in his hometown of Paris, where Ngannou also started his MMA journey.
“Just for the history, I would prefer [to fight] Francis Ngannou in Paris, [mostly] for the fans,” Gane said.
Who do you think wins the interim heavyweight title fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis at UFC 265?