Tai Tuivasa has predicted Francis Ngannou will knock out Ciryl Gane later this month.
Ngannou and Gane, 35 and 31 respectively, headline UFC 270 in Los Angeles with the heavyweight title up for grabs.
The Cameroon-born MMA fighter is one of the most devastating knockout artists in UFC history, with 12 of his 16 victories coming by way of KO.
Ngannou also broke the world record previously held by kickboxer Tyrone Sprong for the most powerful punch ever recorded at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas back in 2017.
But ‘Bam Bam’ – who is scheduled to face Houston native Derrick Lewis next month in enemy territory in February – also tipped Gane to nick it on points but only if he ‘plays the long game’.
The Australian, 28, told InsideFighting: “Yeah, they are two freaks, you know what I mean?
“I think I have said the other day, I think if Ciryl plays the long game at points and can stay away from Francis, I think he might win over the five rounds.
“But that’s harder than it sounds, you know what I mean?
“If Francis touches him or lands one of those massive shots, I think we’ve all seen what Francis does, and he might put him out. Like, that’s again another 50-50.
“Ciryl’s a nice guy, but I think Francis might get it. I’m not sure but I’m gonna go with Francis. But Ciryl Gane is a new breed of heavyweight for sure.
“Definitely Ciryl is the new style of heavyweight but if Francis goes forward I’m backing Francis.”
Despite his incredible success in recent years, it could be argued that Gane is still a bit green behind the ears heading into arguably the biggest fight of his career.
But having spent time training with Ngannou at MMA Factory in Paris, it seems the Frenchman isn’t at all fazed by the prospect of facing his former teammate turned rival.
Speaking to BT Sport, Gane said: “He’s really well-rounded now, and I think it’s going to be more like that, because he knows I can manage the power.
“I think he knows I can manage the power. So maybe he should be a smart fighter [when we fight].”
And when pushed for a prediction of his own, he added: “I think it’s gonna be like Jairzinho [Rozenstruik].
“I’m going to manage the fight. I’m going to win after five rounds. Maybe before with a submission or something like that. Why not?”