The UFC’s first pay-per-view of the year takes place this weekend, with a must-watch heavyweight title showdown between undisputed champion Francis Ngannou and interim belt-holder Ciryl Gane.
Former teammates and sparring partners, there is no love lost between the two. Frenchman Gane, 10-0 in professional mixed martial arts, spoke to the media ahead of Sunday morning’s huge clash in Anaheim, California.
You have a 100% takedown defence, so do you think Francis is going to risk trying to bring you to the ground knowing you have high level striking?
Yes. This is really possible; everything is possible. I don't know exactly, this is an option. I can see Francis trying to catch me and take me down - this is an option, and we are ready for that.
You are undefeated in both MMA and kickboxing, are you worried about experiencing defeat for the first time?
Yes, that's true in competition I don’t have defeats, but in my gym, I learned a lot. I deal with this a lot, I got a really good sparring partner, in wrestling, everywhere. And so yes, I know what it is.
I want to ask you about the heavyweight division as a whole. Apart from Aspinall, who do you think is a future threat? Someone that you know, could cause a few problems?
I love my generation. Tom Aspinall is a really good guy, and I really appreciate it, he’s really well rounded. There’s a lot of names in the new generation: I think this is the future of the division.
Is it safe to say that it's a big dream of yours to bring a UFC event to France?
If I win, I think I can ask the UFC, I can work for this a little bit more because I would be the champion. Yes, of course. This is a dream for a lot of fans in my country, and this is my dream also. I want to bring the UFC to Paris with me in the headline.
I want to ask you about former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones - obviously there's a lot of talk about him finally making his heavyweight debut this year. If you get past Francis, is that a fight that interests you?
Yes of course, if I win against Francis, and even if I lose, I think this fight can happen. A lot of fans, a lot of media, a lot of specialists of MMA talk about this fight because you have a really good matchup. Jon Jones is an aspiration when I started my career; media would ask me if you have a model and some inspirational fighter, and every time he’s on my list. Jon Jones is well rounded; I want to be this kind of fighter.