FanPost

Ngannou-Gane: Preview, Breakdown, Prediction

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The stage is set for this Saturday, January 22nd, when reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) takes on undefeated interim titleholder Ciryl Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in the main event of UFC 270 in Anaheim, California. The magnitude of this fight is difficult to put into words, but simply put, it is one of the biggest heavyweight fights in MMA history. Period.

Preview

In many ways, it could be said that this is the Godzilla vs. King Kong of MMA.

Ngannou enters this fight riding a remarkable 5-fight win streak, including his brutal second round knockout of the consensus heavyweight GOAT in Stipe Miocic. Aside from Miocic, Ngannou's UFC career includes several remarkable knockout wins over the likes of Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Andrei Arlovski, none of which were able to survive the first round against 'The Predator'.

The Frenchman Ciryl Gane is still a relatively new face in the UFC's heavyweight division, despite going 3-0 in 2021 en route to claiming interim gold. Gane is undefeated in his professional career and is riding the momentum of a 7-fight win streak inside the octagon, a run which includes notable victories over Derrick Lewis, Alexander Volkov, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Junior dos Santos. Without going into too much detail, it is appropriate to say 'Bon Gamin' has had a flawless career thus far.

Together, Ngannou and Gane have a combined 26 wins with 23 finishes. Every win that was not a finish is courtesy of Ciryl Gane.

Fight Breakdown

As far as pure skill and technique go, it is no secret that Ngannou is at a disadvantage coming in. That being said, it would be a major oversimplification to deem Ngannou a one-punch knockout threat and nothing more. Ngannou has truly become a high-level fighter in his own right, something that was clearly on display in his rematch with the great Miocic. Similar to his last fight, Ngannou's keys to victory will heavily rely on his patience. Patience will be needed in order to find appropriate openings, pick his shots wisely, and weaponize his sharpened skillset to take out Gane in the early portion of the fight. Although primarily a threat with his hands, look to see Ngannou use his underrated kicking game at times in the bout to disrupt the movement of Gane. In my opinion, Francis Ngannou is the heaviest hitter our sport has ever seen, so it should go without saying that Gane simply cannot take clean punches from the champion, otherwise it will be a short night at the office.

Gane is unlike any heavyweight we've ever seen before in terms of his athleticism and movement in general, so this is unlike anything Ngannou has ever faced before (their training sessions notwithstanding). Gane's path to victory involves sticking to the outside and using his elite distance management to land oblique kicks to the knee, push kicks to the body, and to establish his jab early. Gane must also use his movement to cut angles and constantly switch stances, in hopes of keeping Ngannou from letting his hands go and targeting the big shot. If Gane is able to start slowly, take Ngannou into deep waters, then pour it on in rounds three, four and five, this will be his best chance at victory considering Ngannou is likely to fade down the stretch. Gane is a highly sophisticated striker with Muay Thai roots, and it would appear as though many people still don't fully understand how special he is in that realm. On top of this, Gane has a proven submission game, so look to see him chase a takedown at some point in the contest, or at least threaten Ngannou with the possibility of one.

Prediction

This fight is a coin toss, meaning is is incredibly hard to try and predict on paper. Gane operates at such a high level on the feet, but Ngannou has the ultimate equalizer of crushing knockout power. From an analytical point of view, I really like Gane to win this fight via TKO in the championship rounds. It is very, very hard for me to pick against him when I genuinely think he is the more talented fighter between the two.

However, despite Gane being a heavyweight striker unlike we've ever seen before, we have been reminded over and over again that Ngannou's power is just too much for anyone to withstand if he is able to land clean. I advise that you interpret my prediction with great caution, but I think Ngannou will win via KO/TKO within the first two rounds.

Regardless of my prediction, I can confidently say it's unlikely this one goes to the scorecards.

UFC 270 is set to go down Saturday, January 22nd, live from the Honda Center in Anaheim. Main Card begins at 10pm, ET.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.