With both fighters bringing extraordinary skills to the table, it's hard not to get excited about this heavyweight showdown. At first glance, Francis Ngannou looks like a real-life superhero. For a man of his size, he is athletic, quick, and possesses otherworldly power. His takedown defense has also improved since his first fight with Stipe Miocic.
His boxing skills are progressing, and the confidence he has in his chin means he's not afraid to take one to give one.
On the other hand, Ciryl Gane is the evolution of the heavyweight division, despite being almost the same size. He relies more on his movement, technique, and fighting IQ than his power. As a safe and tactical fighter, he doesn't take unnecessary risks. This is uncommon for a mixed martial arts heavyweight fighter.
Gane's methodical fighting style and sparring sessions with Ngannou will make this Ngannou's toughest challenge yet. Each fighter will feel more confident or less confident because of their familiarity with training at the same gym.
UFC 270 will showcase true titans squaring off against each other. The most powerful puncher we've ever seen vs. the most technically advanced heavyweight. This fight is so intriguing because it could answer the age-old question in martial arts. What matters more, technique or power?
Whoever wins this fight could dominate the division and surpass Stipe Miocic's record for most title defenses at 4. If the newly crowned champion can get past their next two opponents, it would cement their greatness in the division. Potential fights are Stipe Miocic and Jon "Bones" Jones, who has made a move up to heavyweight and is expected to make his debut in 2022.
On paper, the odds are in Gane's favor. His superior defense and ability to stay on the outside should dictate the pace of the fight, making it a kickboxing match. If he's unable to maintain distance and use angles to slip and counter. Francis will separate his mind from consciousness with a single punch.
Ciryl Gane has the footwork and elusiveness to make Ngannou miss and tire out. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to hit without being hit. Watching him break down opponents in the octagon with his fight IQ, speed, and patience is artistically beautiful.
Considering Gane's performance against Alexander Volkov and Derrick Lewis, it's hard to imagine Ngannou catching him with anything that could put him away. He could simply outscore Ngannou to win by split or unanimous decision.
When things are not going Francis's way in a fight, he often throws heavier punches, leading to fatigue. We could see him gas out in the third round, assuming Gane can stay away from anything dangerous.
Francis favors his pull-back left hook, right uppercut combination. Gane can force this action by fainting and switching stances unexpectedly to create angles, exposing attacks on the body or lead leg of Ngannou.
The cage size isn't something people usually discuss but will play a part in how this fight will play out. Depending on how large the cage is at the Honda Center, either fighter will have an advantage.
A larger cage will give Ciryl Gane the advantage, giving him more space to move around and be elusive. A smaller cage will work in Ngannou's favor because smaller cages encourage the fighters to engage more. Thus, explaining the 12% higher finishing rate.
Gane's tendency to duck and push opponents away when in trouble could get him flatlined early. Francis has a devastating uppercut that could land like the one against Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 in December 2017.
Ngannou's power is terrifying, and he's too dangerous to have a lapse in concentration. He's not the most intelligent fighter or the most technical, but just a touch from him can and will put Gane out cold.
Even so, Ciryl Gane has so many tools at his disposal to win this epic battle. He can create openings defensively and offensively that Francis cannot defend.
There are lessons to be learned from the infamous sparring video. It may only have been sparring, but we can still draw solid conclusions from what we see.
From the video, Ciryl has a clear technical and speed advantage. He defended takedowns and consistently circled around attacks, allowing him to counter effectively. His footwork is much better, and he's always in the correct position on the mat.
We also see Ngannou's right hand is overextended when he throws many of his punches. As a result, he becomes off-balance. Ciryl can easily switch stances, allowing his right hand to counter while using his left to defend the overextended right hand.
As mentioned earlier, the video shows Ngannou's left hook, right uppercut combination. In the scene, Gane throws a jab to trigger this combo from Ngannou. When the opportunities arises, he takes advantage by ducking under the left hook and fires back potential kill shots of his own.
Will Ngannou learn from those sparring sessions and resist the traps that Gane will set? Can Ciryl Gane defeat the scariest heavyweight since Mike Tyson? Who will become "The Baddest Man on the planet?" We'll find out at UFC 270 on January 22 in Anaheim.
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