France was in full celebration after Ciryl Gane stopped Tai Tuivasa in the main event of UFC Paris last night (Sat., Sept. 3, 2022), wrapping up a perfect (5-0) sweep for home country fighters (watch highlights here). And while Gane’s third round finish had fans inside Accor Arena on their feet, there was one man in the stands who claimed to be unimpressed: UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou.
Ngannou beat Gane via close come-from-behind decision when they fought back in Jan. 2022 (watch highlights). According to “The Predator,” that win he holds over Gane limits the amount of excitement he can get out of Gane winning.
“I know he’s a great fighter,” Ngannou said on the ESPN+ post-fight show (via MMA Junkie). “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. So, it’s really hard to be impressed.”
Ngannou did admit the back-and-forth main event was very entertaining.
“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 [work], that’s what got him the victory. It was just like strategic, technical type of fight.”
The win will keep Gane atop the official UFC Heavyweight rankings in the No. 1 spot … just below Ngannou. As for Ngannou, he’s still recovering from a knee injury he came into the Gane fight with. While there have been rumors UFC was hoping Francis would return in time to potentially face Jon Jones at UFC 282 on Dec. 10, 2022, it doesn’t sound very realistic given Ngannou’s recovery schedule.
“I don’t have any timeline or exact timeline for the return,” Ngannou said. “I’m going to see the doctor one week from now. I’m following up with the doctor to see how it’s going. It’s going pretty good, but you have to give it some time. It’s not like it’s going to be great. It’s been five months. I kind of [need] some more time.”
Ngannou’s UFC contract is set to expire in Jan. 2023, reportedly putting the Heavyweight champ into free agency. With the boxing world offering solid eight-figure fight purses, there’s a good chance we may not see “The Predator” back in the Octagon after he fully heals from knee surgery.
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