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Ciryl Gane Is Eager To Test Himself Against 'The G.O.A.T.'

In HIs Second Crack At The Undisputed Heavyweight Title, Ciryl Gane Is Happy To Welcome Jon Jones To The Division At UFC 285: Jones vs Gane

Having a story come out where you say that you don’t train between fights just two weeks before you’re set to challenge Jon Jones for the vacant UFC heavyweight title sends up major red flags for fans and observers, but Ciryl Gane wants to set the record straight.

“Early in my career, I was flawless and everything was okay for me, but since I met Francis Ngannou, I changed,” said Gane, clarifying comments made to the French outlet La Sueur that were translated to English and sent concerned ripples through the MMA world as he seemed to declare that he doesn’t spend any time in the gym between fights.

How To Watch UFC 285 In Your Country

“You have training, and you have training,” continued the 32-year-old, who has been tasked with welcoming Jones back to action and into the heavyweight division this weekend in the UFC 285 main event. “You have the camp — a real camp — and there you have training that is hard, but then you have training where you need to keep your shape, work on some stuff, and you take your time.

“Me? I take my time. If I need to work on my power, I’m going to focus on my power, and not sparring at the same time. I’m not always in the gym with my guys to spar every day.”

In The Gym With Ciryl Gane | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Tuivasa
In The Gym With Ciryl Gane | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Tuivasa

Whether the clarification satisfies the curious masses or only further heightens intrigue heading into this weekend’s clash remains to be seen, but the ultra-talented Frenchman isn’t all that worried with people parsing his words and dissecting his comments, looking for clues about his preparation and hints as to whether he’ll become the first man to genuinely defeat Jones inside the Octagon this weekend.

Take the scrutiny of Gane discussing the condensed preparation window for Saturday’s colossal heavyweight clash.

While Gane was simply stating the facts as they stand — that this weekend’s bout was only finalized in January, resulting in a shorter training period than he would have ideally preferred — people quickly pounced on his honest comments as an attempt to lay the foundations of an explanation for why things didn’t go his way, should that be how things play out at UFC 285.

UFC 285 FREE FIGHTS: Gane vs Tuivasa | Gane vs Lewis | Jones vs Rua | Jones vs Machida | Shevchenko vs Andrade | Grasso vs Wood

In reality, he was just telling the truth.

“When we talked with (UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell) during the fight week of Nassourdine Imavov. We made a post on Instagram in the morning saying, ‘Where are you Jon Jones?’ and in the evening, we talked with Hunter, and he said, ‘I’m gonna try.’

“When he came back to Fernand Lopez (Gane’s coach and manager), it was impossible to say no. Maybe the time was a little short, but with this opportunity, it was impossible to say no.

“If you ask me if I prefer one month or two months or three months, I’m gonna say three months, because that is better than two and is better than one, but it’s impossible to say no.

“If a guy says no to this kind of opportunity, he’s a stupid guy.”

And Gane is not a stupid guy.

Ciryl Gane of France punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Accor Arena on September 03, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Ciryl Gane of France punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Accor Arena on September 03, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Too honest and forthright, maybe, but definitely not stupid.

Saturday’s main event is one of the biggest fights in the last five years, in part because it carries a tremendous amount of genuine intrigue.

Not only has Jones not fought in a little over three years, but he’s returning to a new division, one where some of the tremendous advantages that he carried and maximized at light heavyweight will be diminished. After years of the outcome of his fights feeling like a foregone conclusion, there is some uncertainty about how Jones will perform as a heavyweight.

TITLE FIGHT PREVIEWS: Jones vs Gane | Shevchenko vs Grasso

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Gane said, offering his thoughts on Jones’ potential in the heavyweight division. “He’s not a small guy, so he can add some weight on him. He worked on this for two, three years, and he’s an athlete.

“In the heavyweight division, you see some guys are flat-footed, really slow, really fat, and I think he’s going to be better than that,” he added. “I think he’s going to jump into this division and be a good heavyweight.”

A good heavyweight, but not the best heavyweight.

“I think I’m a better heavyweight than him because I move better than him, I’m faster than him,” said the Frenchman, who rebounded from his UFC 270 loss to Francis Ngannou with a third-round stoppage win over Tai Tuivasa at home in Paris in September. “I think I have an advantage because I’m from this division; this is where I started.

“I have more experience with this division, with this weight, so I have an advantage, but he has some advantages, too. He’s had a big career, so he has experience at a high level.”

Ciryl Gane Fight Week Interview | UFC 285
Ciryl Gane Fight Week Interview | UFC 285

Many consider the now 35-year-old Jones to be The G.O.A.T. — greatest of all time — when it comes to mixed martial arts, as he sports a remarkable 26-1 record with one no contest, with his lone setback coming by disqualification in a bout he was thoroughly dominating well over a decade ago against Matt Hamill.

He’s the youngest fighter to win UFC gold, achieving the feat at UFC 128 nearly a dozen years ago, before rattling off a run that includes victories over six former or future UFC champions and the top contenders across multiple eras.

Coach Conversation | Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane

As he previously stated, the chance to welcome Jones back to the Octagon was too good for Gane to pass up, regardless of the condensed preparation schedule, but what will be sweeter: winning the UFC heavyweight title or toppling “The G.O.A.T.” on Saturday night?

“That’s a really great question and I think it’s 50/50,” he said. “As I said before, no matter who is between me and the belt, it doesn’t matter, because I want the belt. But now it’s Jon Jones and Jon Jones is ‘The G.O.A.T.’ and if you beat ‘The G.O.A.T.’ even if you don’t have the belt, this is big, so it’s 50/50.”

Ciryl Gane trains at MMA Factory in Paris France on August 25 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)

Ciryl Gane trains at MMA Factory in Paris, France, on August 25, 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)

Gane already has an ideal scenario in mind for what comes next should he beat Jones on Saturday — a title defense against former champion Stipe Miocic in Paris in September would be his dream — but he also knows he has a massive task in front of him this weekend.

And while he’s confident in his skills and believes he will emerge victorious, the occasionally too honest “Bon Gamin” from La Roche-sur-Yon knows it all comes down to who is able to implement their clear and obvious game plan once the door to the Octagon closes.

Photo Gallery | Ciryl Gane Trains At MMA Factory in Paris

“I don’t know if I can tell you the game plan,” he said, chasing his words with a booming, baritone laugh. “There are no surprises.

“Everyone knows my strengths, and I know his already, too. He has a good Fight IQ; I have a good Fight IQ. He’s a good striker, but maybe I’m a better striker than him. I’m a good wrestler, but he’s a f***ing good wrestler.”

The baritone laugh fills the phone line again.

“Everybody knows the kind of fight we’re going to have: he’s going to try to get me down and I’m going to try to keep the fight on the feet, so we will see.”

UFC 285: Jones vs Gane

UFC 285: Jones vs Gane took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass