Patient and more powerful, the Cameroonian Francis Ngannou showed that he remained the best in the heavyweight category by retaining his title of UFC world champion at the expense of the French Ciryl Gane, disappointed and not far from the feat, Saturday in Anaheim.
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It was after five rounds, tight and not always spectacular, that Ngannou won by unanimous decision of the judges (48-47, 48-47, 49-46). He thus adds a 17th victory to his record (3 defeats) and inflicts on Gane his first setback in 11 fights.
“I knew he would be a very tough opponent. He was very good, difficult to manage, but I did what I had to do, remaining calm and confident,” commented the winner, who had to deal with ligament pain in one knee.
Announced as one of the biggest clashes of the prestigious world league of mixed martial arts, this clash between two fighters who knew each other rather well, for both being from the MMA Factory, the factory for champions located in Paris, did not did not keep all of its promises.
“I certainly didn’t knock out Ciryl, but I’m glad I disappointed those who thought he would beat me in five rounds. I was the champion and I remain so. The boss is me,” summarized Ngannou who came to the press conference in a green suit, golden belt on the shoulder, all reminiscent of the colors of his country.
No series of deafening blows to shake the Honda Center, therefore, under the eyes of Mike Tyson, except this huge hold which turned Gane in the air and tackled him to the ground by falling on top of it with all his weight, in the 3rd round — 115 kg of a fury then found for the Cameroonian.
Ngannou had just found the solution there, after two recoveries rather to the advantage of his opponent, more mobile in the cage and who placed a few returned kicks, including one hitting his opponent’s neck, and good jabs.
In wrestling mode, Ngannou thus put the Frenchman on the ground several times, using his strength to exhaust him, without touching him violently with his fists.
Gane did try an armbar in the 4th round, but it didn’t last long enough. No more than the other ankle deep in the next.
In this last round, the two fighters were more often lying on the ground than standing. Like a beast with two backs, one found himself on the other several times in turn, until the exhaustion of each and the last seconds.
In the end, the power of the “Predator” made the difference against the technique of “Bon Gamin”. “He knew how to use his strength. I was surprised a few times and that’s what made him win, ”agreed the Frenchman, disappointed.
Gane wants ‘rematch’
Ten months after seizing the world champion belt, at the expense of the American Stipe Miocic then knocked out unceremoniously, Ngannou has proven that he remains the best current fighter in the heavyweight category.
The big question now is what his future will be in the UFC as his contract runs out at the end of the year. And it is uncertain whether he will be extended as Ngannou has a strained relationship with league boss Dana White, believing he is not being paid enough as he contributes to his growing popularity across the world.
He also reiterated in the octagon his “desire” to turn to English boxing at the age of 35, his first passion, which moreover offers higher fees: “It’s something I have to do before the end of my career. The Englishman Tyson Fury, WBC heavyweight champion, did not wait to challenge him on social networks.
For Gane, 31, who only started in mixed martial arts in 2018, the mountain was too high. And this despite the wise advice of his trainer, Fernand Lopez, who launched Ngannou’s career in 2013, before he left the MMA Factory in 2019 to give new impetus to his career in the United States.
But “the future belongs to me”, said the Frenchman who called on his rival to continue in the UFC: “I want revenge”.