Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Ciryl Gane has only been a professional mixed martial artist for less than three years.
Such thinking might have tempered expectations at UFC Fight Night 186, when the Frenchman cruised to a forgettable five-round verdict against Jairzinho Rozenstruik in Saturday’s heavyweight headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It wasn’t the type of performance that will propel Gane to the top of the division, but it was nonetheless significant for an athlete who is still learning and progressing.
“This guy is really dangerous, he is really tough, he has big knockout power, so we have to manage the fight with this guy, manage the distance and be focused, be careful,” Gane said. “We did it, we did it well and we did more. We made pressure against the cage, we did maybe two, three takedowns, maybe more. I tried to finish the fight. I try, I try, but yes it was a good fight.”
It was also Gane’s first time going a full 25 minutes in the cage, an important step for any championship hopeful. Now the 30-year-old MMA Factory representative says he’ll be ready to headline more UFC cards in the future.
“I can make a fight in five rounds. I can manage maybe one of the most dangerous guys of this division and I did it very well, I think,” Gane said. “I’m ready for every test, if you are going to put me in the headliner like you say, I’m here. I have maybe a little experience, but I feel comfortable, so if you need me, I’m your man.”
Regardless of the criticism that surrounded his latest effort, Gane believes he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the very best of the heavyweight division.
“I’m legit,” Gane said. “I’m undefeated and I’m the only one undefeated in this division in the rankings. I think I’m legit. I want to say it to everybody: In the next months, if you have a place, if someone has an injury, I’m here. I’m here, man.”
Gane entered UFC Fight Night 186 with big plans that hinged on defeating Rozenstruik. After taking care of business in the Octagon, “Bon Gamin” has his sights set on championship hardware.
“I talked with my coach and he said if I win this weekend, I’m going to go after the belt,” Gane said. “It doesn’t matter who or how – we’re going to go after the belt now.”