Former UFC Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker details the potential strength of Francis Ngannou as he prepares for a highly anticipated fight against Ciryl Gane. Following what was a brilliant showing from Ciryl Gane in 2021, the interim titleholder would be coming up against Francis Ngannou at UFC 270 on January 22.
Francis Ngannou faces a Herculean task as his first title defense is against Gane, who is undefeated in his mixed martial arts career. The Cameroonian fighter claimed the title back in March after comfortably beating Stipe Miocic in the second round of their UFC 260 bout with a thunderous KO, his fifth in succession.
The former teammates are set to lock horns in what would be an entertaining heavyweight contest. With both fighters on a good run of form, Whittaker, also unsure about who comes out on top, gives his verdict.
Robert Whittaker Gives His Take
“This is a tricky matchup. Ciryl Gane would have to be the most technical striker in the division.”-Whittaker said.”His striking is just clean. You see it against Lewis as he avoided every power shot and just pieced him apart. His striking is very, very high level.”
“But Ngannou has that ‘screw you’ power. Screw your technique, screw your odds, he just hits you and it’s game over. Lewis had that too, but Lewis, I don’t think, is as good a striker as Ngannou. I think Ngannou is a more complete version with that power,” he continued.
“So if I was a betting man, the safer bet would be on Gane because he can just stay outside and piece him up for five rounds. That is a possibility and a road to victory for Gane. But Ngannou just needs to land one real big screw you pow and it’s over.”
“I would never rule out Ngannou for the win.” “I would have to say this fight is so 50/50.”
Francis Ngannou demonstrated the intensity of the rivalry ahead of this fight when he snubbed his former teammate backstage at UFC 268. Gane went on to admit his surprise at being snubbed by the UFC champion.
Ciryl Gane Responds
“I’m surprised because maybe he has something against me, maybe he has something against his former coach, Fernand Lopez, but Nassourdine Imavov? It’s a little of a shame,” Ciryl said.
Francis, however, in an interview, cited it as a precaution: “Well, it’s been a couple [of] years now that [Lopez is] out there picking on me. I mean, like, yeah, I want to be nice, but when I saw him in that position, I [had] a few thoughts. I’m like, ‘OK, should I say hi? Then, I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I might go closer and say hi and somehow you will hear that I said [something I didn’t say].
Ciryl Gane’s composed and efficient Muay Thai fighting style would be up against Francis’ hard-hitting, one-shot knockout power. The former teammates aren’t new to each other and the suspense in the headlines makes this wait worthwhile.
Who will emerge as the champion at UFC 270? Let us know in the comments!