Although Ciryl Gane had previously held the title of interim heavyweight champion, his breakthrough performance came on Saturday when he won by knockout in the UFC Paris main event. Gane had just suffered his first professional MMA defeat. In January, he lost his chance to become the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion to Francis Ngannou.
Gane was engaged with the Australian Tai Tuivasa in an amazing back-and-forth battle at Accor Arena with an energetic crowd on his side that delivered in every way. After Tuivasa was nearly finished in the second round, Gane geared up to punish him to the body with a series of kicks, which helped to build up a devastating spell of punches that eventually ended the fight. In the 3rd round, the referee had to intervene to save Tuivasa from additional injury as the fight came to a stop. Gane rose to congratulate his opponent with the Paris crowd.
Gane looked excited and happy with his performance as he demonstrated yet again why he is a big threat to the UFC heavyweight division. He didn’t call out anybody specifically in the post-fight interview, but he revealed his desire for the UFC gold.
“No matter who [is next], I go back to the belt, please,” Gane shouted. “I want the belt. That’s all I want.”
Gane acknowledges that introducing someone like Jones to heavyweight would be perfect, especially given the attention a match of that size would draw. Currently, Francis Ngannou is sidelined due to injury, Stipe Miocic is still out of action, and Jon Jones is waiting for his first heavyweight battle as he teased the fans with a potential return at UFC 282.
“To have Jon Jones in this division is going to put some more light, [and] the division is going to shine a little bit more and more,” Gane said on the UFC post-fight show. “That’s why I’m so happy to have this guy in this division.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen exactly. People talk about Stipe [Miocic] against Jones, but I’m here. I’m here. I don’t have a good answer [about who is next but] – maybe Jon Jones for the hype, for the money.”
Gane's only realistic choice looks to be a #4 ranked heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes, who tweeted "I got next" immediately after the UFC Paris main event concluded. Although Gane has never been the one to turn down any challenge, he denies facing Blaydes next when future bouts with Jones, Miocic, or Ngannou are still on the table.
“I think maybe Stipe or Jones [will be next],” Gane said. “I’m sorry, bro, if I have a choice, it’s not going to be [Curtis] Blaydes. This is not smart.”