Ciryl Gane is expecting to see a well-prepared, ready Jon Jones, but says he has the one thing in his arsenal that Jones doesn’t – experience as a bonafide UFC heavyweight.
Jones rapidly climbed the UFC’s light heavyweight ladder to become the most dominant champion in the 205-pound division’s history and, along with it, be considered by many as the greatest mixed martial artist to ever compete.
Now, after a three-year hiatus, Jones is back, and he’s moved up to heavyweight, where he’ll meet France’s Gane for the vacant UFC heavyweight title at UFC 285 on March 4 in Las Vegas.
Much of the fight week buildup has focused on Jones, but Gane has remained calm, relaxed and confident as he gets set for the biggest fight of his MMA career to date.
Speaking to the press during media day ahead of the event, Gane said he’s expecting to see Jones show up on fight night looking better than ever in his new weight class.
“We expected during the camp a beautiful Jon Jones,” he said.
“Fast like he was at the light heavyweight, with the same skills, but stronger like a heavyweight. Like a real heavyweight. We expected this, and we did all the camp on this.”
While much of the pre-fight talk has focused on Jones, Gane has been focusing on his goal to become undisputed UFC heavyweight champion. That was the case when he joined the UFC, and remains so now, even though the opposition may be different. Despite that, however, Gane did reveal that capturing the title by defeating Jones would add another layer of satisfaction to the achievement.
“I want the belt now, whoever is the guy (I have to face),” he explained.
“But now it’s Jon Jones, this is going to mean a lot for me, because he’s the GOAT. Everybody knows that, because of his career.
“Even if this is not his division, he’s still an athlete, so if we win, it will be something big for my career, and something big for my life, for sure.”
On its most basic level, the bout could be described as pitting Jones’ wrestling against Gane’s striking, and the Frenchman said he’s “really aware” of the former light heavyweight king’s wrestling abilities.
But, as well as the striking advantage he strongly believes in, he also said his experience fighting as a heavyweight throughout his career is also a major benefit to him as he prepares to face Jones.
“One hundred percent, it’s going to be an advantage, because I started in this division,” he said.
“So this is not something new for me. It’s going to be new for him. Even if he did, I’m sure, a lot of sparring with some heavy, heavy guys. Even if he did that, yes, I’ve still got more experience than him (at heavyweight).”
And the Frenchman raised a wide smile when he was asked to respond to the fact that he’s the underdog with the oddsmakers ahead of fight night in Vegas.
“Yeah. Perfect. I like that!”