Francis Ngannou exploded out of Fernand Lopez' Fight Factory in Paris, France, and, barring alien abduction, will be UFC heavyweight champion someday, maybe someday soon. "The Predator" had an acrimonious split with his former mentor, but Fight Factory produced another monster in the making.
Ciryl Gane entered the UFC with a 3-0 record, and earned four more wins in the Octagon, showing unprecedented diversity in a division typically dominated by heavy hands. "Bon Gamin" earned wins in the Octagon by armlock, leg lock, decision, and elbow. Jairzinho Rozenstruik has a vast kickboxing background, and was a counter-striking specialist. His last seven fights all ended via T/KO, all via punches, and the sole loss in his 12 fights was to Ngannou.
Heading into his fight vs. the #4 ranked Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Vegas 20 on Saturday night, #7 ranked Gane had an opportunity to establish himself as a Next Big Thing contender. That did not happen; the fight was not fan-friendly, it was fan-estranging.
UFC president Dana White did not attend the post-fight press conference, but shared his thoughts on the contest with Yahoo! Sports Kevin Iole.
“Everybody’s talking about Ciryl being this big contender, but look at what Francis Ngannou did to Jairzinho,” wrote White. “This was his coming out party and his chance to show the world who he is. He won, but let’s leave it at that. He won.”
Gane was at the post-fight press conference, and said he got it.
“I can understand that,” said Gane. “He is the boss, and he wants to make money, so you want the guy marketable. The people want the show. They want the big KO. So yes, I don’t finish the fight. I tried, but I don’t do it. I can understand that, but I’m OK."
“I remember that I tried to finish the fight. I didn’t but I tried to finish the fight and yes, we managed the fight very well so yes I’m happy. I think did it well. I managed the fight on the feet. I tried to go down, I go down and I did the takedown. I think I manage well the fight on the feet.”
“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. 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.
“So I want to say to everybody, yes, if for the [title fight] next month, if someone is injured, I’m here. No problem."
Rozenstruik too offered his thoughts post-fight, on his social network.
“Fans, family, and friends, I just fought, and the fight didn’t go my way," he said. "I think it was my worst performance ever, if you ask me, I’m hard to myself. So this is me explaining myself; I think I owe you guys this. I’m going to go back home and work my ass out for my next fight. Don’t know when it’s going to be. Respect to Ciryl, he win the fight, and he’s a potentional fighter. That is what I can say.”
Right now the term "potentional fighter" sums it up. Gane may end up in a title fight, maybe not too long from now. But in his next fight, he needs to show more of that potential.
UG, what did you think of the fight?