UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou doesn’t recognize Ciryl Gane as the interim titleholder and believes the Frenchman’s belt is illegitimate.
After 2018 defeats to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis stalled his rise, Ngannou hit the form of his life. In four fights, “The Predator” recorded four first-round knockouts against Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, totaling less than four minutes inside the Octagon.
After earning a rematch with Miocic, Ngannou didn’t let the consensus greatest UFC heavyweight of all time evade his power for a second time. In the UFC 260 main event, the Cameroonian brutally slept the veteran in the second round, securing his place on the heavyweight throne. But while he found his success, another product out of Paris’ MMA Factory gym was forging his own path to the top.
In 10 professional fights since his 2018 debut, Ciryl Gane has remained undefeated, made his way to the UFC, defeated the likes of dos Santos, Rozenstruik, Alexander Volkov, and Derrick Lewis, headlined two UFC Fight Night cards and one pay-per-view, and had interim gold wrapped around his waist.
“Bon Gamin” will now look to dethrone his former teammate in a blockbuster unification bout set for UFC 270 early next year.
Ngannou: “I’m The Undisputed Champion”
Despite Gane’s interim title success, the controversy surrounding the promotion’s decision to create the belt is hard to forget. That’s especially the case for Ngannou. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, “The Predator” suggested he doesn’t recognize the #15-ranked men’s pound-for-pound fighter’s gold as “legitimate.”
“I don’t recognize (Gane’s) belt,” Ngannou said. “I’m the undisputed heavyweight champion. (Gane’s belt) isn’t legitimate, it is a replacement. The presence of the champion makes the interim title invalid. And I’m here.”
The UFC chose to create an interim title despite Ngannou’s willingness to defend his belt for the first time in September, just six months after his crowning. The promotion’s eagerness to have Lewis headline the UFC 265 pay-per-view in Houston was enough for the new title to be created, something which has been extremely advantageous for Gane.
Nevertheless, the goal remains the same for Ngannou. He wants to cement his status as the one true heavyweight kingpin by defeating every contender in the weight class, starting with “Bon Gamin” on January 22.
“I want to be the one, the only one, on top of the division. That means I have to take everyone else out… I have what it takes to shut up everyone in the division,” Ngannou said. “I’m going to make a statement on January 22.”
Who do you think will leave UFC 270 as the undisputed heavyweight king, Francis Ngannou or Ciryl Gane?
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