UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is teasing the use of his vastly improved grappling against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.
Ngannou earned the heavyweight title by knocking out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 last year. While he’s mainly known as an elite striker with knockout power, he showcased superb takedown defense and stifled Miocic’s advances in the grappling department.
Ngannou will likely never be known as an elite wrestler as he is a striker, but he isn’t counting out the use of that toolbox in his matchup with Gane. During a recent interview with Michael Bisping on BT Sport, he explained why he feels he holds the advantage when it comes to grappling.
“I’ve gotta admit that it’s gonna be a tough fight, regarding his style,” Ngannou said. “But (this is) one of the first times that I worked to a fight and like, I feel pretty confident about like, ‘Okay, let’s say this guy will attempt a takedown or wrestling,’ I’m like, ‘This is not a fight, this is not a game.’ It’s not like when I was preparing for the Stipe fight, I (was like), ‘You better don’t let him touch your legs,’ you know?
“So, Ciryl has a good striking, but he kind of lacks in that area (wrestling), which is all in my favor because I have a little bit of experience there. When I look at him and his record, he hasn’t fought a wrestler, a good wrestler, yet. I was hoping sometime that he’d get Curtis Blaydes. Before you get past Curtis Blaydes, I don’t sign you off [LAUGHS].”
Gane has arguably the most unique skillset out of all the heavyweight contenders. He’s able to use his movement on the feet like a welterweight to go with his power as a heavyweight.
Ngannou and Gane used to train together briefly at MMA Factory in France before Ngannou parted ways with coach Fernand Lopez and moved to the United States. The two of them are familiar with one another’s strengths and weaknesses through their time under Lopez.
The Ngannou vs. Gane matchup has been pinned as a prototypical ‘power vs. technique’ matchup, but Gane has played that down. While striking will be the main form of attack from both men, expect the unexpected in this heavyweight battle.
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