It is understood that Gane and Ngannou are going to lock horns at UFC 270 on January 22 in Anaheim, California, in what will be the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion’s first pay-per-view event of the new year.
Gane and Ngannou are former sparring partners but Smith believes it could be a tough night for ‘The Predator’ as he expects Bon Gamin to get his hand raised without so much as breaking a sweat.
The one-time UFC title challenger was impressed with the interim champion’s clinical display against Texas native Derrick Lewis in August.
And the 33-year-old MMA fighter is apparently so high on Gane he is confident he will be able to beat Jones as well.
Smith said during an appearance on SiriusXM: “I think Ciryl Gane is the real deal.
“I’m making the bold prediction, I think Ciryl Gane beats Francis Ngannou, and I think he does it fairly handily.
“I also think Ciryl Gane beats Jon Jones.”
Jones, who boasts a record of 26 wins, one loss and one no contest, has ambitions of making a permanent move up to the dangerous heavyweight division after a successful stint as the undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world.
But Lionheart reckons Jones – who hasn’t competed for well over a year now amid a public spat with Dana White over fighter pay – won’t be able to cope with Gane’s striking prowess.
He continued: “When Jon Jones finds someone who matches him physically and athletically, I think that then you’re going to have to check down on his list to skill and technique.
“I think with Ciryl Gane, I think he loses that battle. I think Ciryl Gane matches his size and athletic ability, his speed, his movement.
“Ciryl Gane’s absolutely the better striker for sure. The little caveat there is if Ciryl Gane can defend a takedown, I think that he beats Jon Jones, and I think it’s boring.
“I think it’s a game of darts, and they’re just throwing darts at each other. I just think that Ciryl Gane is the higher-level striker.
“I think he manages distance as well as – maybe a little bit better than – Jon Jones.”
Smith knows a thing or two about what it’s like to face Jones, having shared the octagon with him for over 25 minutes over the course of five rounds of competitive action.
He added: “Being in there with Jon Jones for 25 minutes, I was expecting some power wrestler that I was going to really struggle with.
“He shot 10 takedowns, and I stuffed eight of them. I wasn’t like a Division I wrestler. I just was able to manage that wrestling.
“Once we got into the clinch, that’s when I started having problems because his arms are long. He is deceptively strong.
“The clinch game is going to be a little funky with those guys, but if they’re just at a distance and Jon Jones plays his game, I think he loses at his own game there.”