This will likely be the biggest heavyweight fight in UFC history. On one hand we have the champion in Francis Ngannou, the scariest man in the UFC (and, by default, the world), fresh off defeating the greatest UFC champion of all time, Stipe Miocic, and making it look easy. On the other hand we have the undefeated Interim Champion in Cyril Gane who has picked apart every opponent that has stood across from his so far, including Derrick Lewis for the Interim Championship, the man with the most knockouts in heavyweight history, who oh by the way is Francis Ngannou’s last loss back in 2018. And double oh by the way, Francis turned down the Lewis fight before Gane stepped in. Without Francis turning that fight down, Gane wouldn’t have had the opportunity to challenge Francis for the undisputed championship today. One more thing: Gane and Ngannou used to be teammates. Ngannou bragged in the press conference about how he knocked out Gane with a highkick in sparring. True or untrue, training room stories don’t matter. The only thing that matters is whether Ngannou begins his reign of title defense dominance, or Gane becomes the new baddest man on the planet.
Keys To Victory: Francis Ngannou.
This is really simple: land a big shot. Everyone Francis touches goes to sleep. The only problem is that it’s really hard to touch Gane. That means Francis needs to be patient and not blow out his gas tank early, missing big shot after big shot, progressively taking away his biggest weapon, his explosiveness.
Keys To Victory: Cyril Gane
This is also very simple, albeit very difficult to do: avoid the big shot. If he is able to pick Francis apart from the outside like he did to Derrick Lewis back in August, it will be a rough night for Ngannou. If he survives the first 2.5 or so rounds, power will become relatively equal, and the quicker, more technical fighter (Gane) will prevail.
Official Prediction: Gane By Late-Round TKO
And-New. The reason is psychological. Francis has been acting out of character lately. Normally mild-mannered and respectful, he has been trading barbs with his former coach in the media, and was talking trash in the press conference to Gane. He was forcibly trying to get in Gane’s head, but it seems more like he’s getting in his own head. He’s also been distracted. There’s been more talk from Francis’s camp about eventually fighting Tyson Fury in a boxing match than there has about getting past the behemoth in front of him at this moment. Not good. Gane will be too light on his feet, composed, and technical for Francis to knock out in the early rounds. Once he whethers that storm, it’ll be all down hill in rounds 3, 4, and 5, picking apart Francis from the outside, then slowly closing the distance, landing power shots as Francis progressively fatigues and wilts under Gane’s pressure. And then (I hope) begins the game of musical chairs between Jon Jones, Gane, and Ngannou for the next few years for heavyweight gold. I can’t wait.