Ciryl Gane: France's MMA heavyweight hope on his meteoric rise to UFC stardom

  • Tom Ward
Ciryl Gane opens up on Francis Ngannou, Dana White, and staying true to himself

Ciryl Gane is prime real estate right now – Paris Saint-Germain, Netflix movies, charity matches. 

The Frenchman, 31, claimed the vacant UFC interim heavyweight title after knocking out Derrick Lewis in front of a hostile crowd at the Toyota Center in Houston on August 7. 

Following that brutal win, Gane will face Francis Ngannou at UFC 270 on January 27. The pair had shared the MMA Factory gym in Paris together since 2017. 

With so much going on, it’s easy to forget Gane only started training in MMA three years ago and didn’t have a pro fight until the age of 28.

So how is the big friendly giant from La Roche-sur-Yon coping with his newfound fame and global success?

GIVEMESPORT’s Charlie Carmichael caught up with ‘Bon Gamin’ at SPORTEL to chat about Francis Ngannou, Dana White, and why he’s staying true to himself. 

CHARLIE CARMICHAEL: Obviously you come from a Muay Thai background. How did you find that? And how do you think it compares with MMA?

CIRYL GANE: “The very first thing that was different was the ground game, because I wasn’t used to this.

“Now I feel more comfortable with MMA, and I’m really confident.”

Ciryl Gane is undefeated in his ten professional mixed martial arts fights

CC: Your record speaks for itself: 10 wins out of 10. You’ve had a mixture of knockouts, submissions, and decision wins. Do you have a preferred way of winning fights?

CG: “Not exactly, I like that my results are well rounded.

“I really like being that guy that can do whatever, whenever.

“My record speaks for itself here. It makes me unpredictable for my opponents.”

CC: One thing that stands out about you, Ciryl, is that you’re so humble. You seem like a really down-to-earth person, which isn’t always the case in combat sports. With boxing and UFC you often get a lot of bravado, a lot of people bigging themselves up. Is it important for you to stay grounded and be humble?

CG: “Well, you know, the only thing is I try to be as authentic as possible.

“I’m not trying to be someone who’s humble or trying to be a trash talker or whatever, you know: in front of my phone or in front of the cameras on the streets, or in the cage. I’m just the person that I am, and that’s it basically.

“It’s the way I was raised, so I’m glad if people think I’m humble because this is who I am.”

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CC: When you first came into the UFC, Dana White wasn’t too hot on you. Now, he loves you! Everything is Ciryl this, Ciryl that. Does his opinion matter to you? Do you take it on board?

CG: “Not overly, but this is my job, and he’s my boss. You want to do a great job for your boss, so you must be cooperative with him.

“My target is not only to win, but to be a ‘bankable’ guy. So that’s why I don’t really give a s—. I take his opinion onboard regarding some aspects, but, you know, not at the price of changing who I am.

“The most important thing for me at the end of the day is to win fights. And that’s it. I know that he wants me to put on a bit of a show, so I do take onboard some aspects as I said.”

CC: Hopefully your next fight is going to be against Francis Ngannou. You used to be sparring partners as well back in Paris. Do you speak much these days? What’s your relationship with him like now?

CG: “We are not really close. We did some sparring together, but not too much. Just a few times.

“It was a great experience for me because I was outside of the UFC at the time.

“But now we are not friends. Unfortunately for the press, this doesn’t suit their storytelling, haha.”

Ciryl Gane signed with the UFC in 2019

CC: Obviously in your last fight you beat Derrick Lewis, who Francis lost to in 2018. Do you think that makes any difference or has any bearing on this fight?

CG: “No, not for me. It’s not a matter of magic. Everybody knows that Derrick is a powerful fighter and I’m more well rounded.

“With Francis, we will see. It’s going to be a good matchup.”

CC: And Jon Jones has come out and said that he would like to fight the winner of that fight. How do you feel about that?

CG: “It’s great for my pocket! So yeah, why not? With pleasure.

“Jon Jones is the GOAT. I’m a new guy in this sport, so to potentially fight Jon makes me really proud.”

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Francis Ngannou

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