The UFC knew exactly what they were looking for when they booked heavyweight striking sensations Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik for the main event of UFC Vegas 20. In a word, they were hoping for fireworks. What they got, instead, was a dud.
Gane controlled the action behind a rangy jab and consistent low kicking game for five rounds, all while Rozenstruik waited and hoped for a clear opening in Gane’s defense that simply never came. On top of an already especially decision heavy fight card, the whole thing left many fans feeling dissatisfied. Not least among them, UFC boss Dana White.
During the post-fight presser, White spoke to the media about the main event and Gane’s performance. While he didn’t exactly bury the Frenchman, White made it clear that he was less than impressed by the result.
“Everybody’s talking about Ciryl being this big contender, but look what Francis [Ngannou] did to Jairzinho,” White said when asked about the fight (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“This was [Ciryl Gane’s] coming out party and his chance to show the world who he is. He won, but let’s leave it at that, he won.”
And while Gane himself has admitted that he wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome, it seems he still feels that there was a lot of upside for him out of the victory.
“I was not really happy but [my head coach] said ‘you did very well, you won five rounds of a fight.’ So I’m happy. I think I proved something. I can go five rounds and I can manage five rounds. I’m really comfortable with five rounds.”
“Oh yes, I think I can talk to the title,” Gane added, suggesting he’d be up for a shot at the belt if either Ngannou or Miocic get injured ahead of UFC 260. “I think the people like a man like me. Young, a little experience but I manage it very well. I’m undefeated. I think I’m only one undefeated in the rankings. So yes, I think I’m legit.”
And as for White’s displeasure in his performance, ‘Bon Gamin’ sounds like he gets why the boss was less than enthused by the fight, even if Gane claims that he was looking for the finish throughout.
“I can understand that – he is the boss and he wants to make money, so he wants a guy [who’s] bankable,” Gane said of White’s comments. “We know, people want the show, want the big KO.
“Yes, I don’t finish the fight. I tried, but I don’t do it. So I can understand that, but I’m OK.”
Whether or not Gane actually sees a downgrade from headliner status after this win remains to be seen. Fans have certainly had their share of stinkers over the years from fighters like Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson, Francis Ngannou, Derrick Lewis, Israel Adesanya, and Jan Blachowicz. But, even tepid defeats didn’t launch these men far out of the limelight. If Gane’s victory has kept him in position to get another top-10 heavyweight next time around, I doubt he’ll be taking that battle down on the prelims.