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Coach Fernand Lopez on newcomer Ciryl Gane: ‘Saturday will be the start of something big’

Bastien Rossi (

Having brought heavyweight behemoth Francis Ngannou to the forefront of his division, MMA Factory head coach Fernand Lopez appears to be the right man to lead 3-0 knockout artist Ciryl Gane to prominence in the UFC.

A champion under Canada’s TKO banner before his signing, Gane has gained a huge reputation internationally as one of the standout prospects in the heavyweight bracket. Despite his relative inexperience, Lopez is adamant that Gane is already primed for the world’s biggest stage.

“Man, he was ready when he was born,” Lopez told MMA Fighting.

“The kid has something, so I’m not surprised [that he’s been signed after three professional MMA fights]. To quote Nate Diaz, ‘I’m not surprised motherf*ckers,’” he said, laughing.

Lopez believes his experience with Ngannou will help him aid Gane in his ascent.

“[My experience with Francis Ngannou] definitely helped, this is what we’re trying to do with Ciryl,” he explained. “The journey that Francis and I went on taught me a lot about how to manage a guy and how to bring him to the top level. I’m trying to do better; I’m trying to do a better version—an evolution. I’m trying to pull everything together and set everything up properly as a coach.”

The celebrated Cameroonian coach also revealed that Gane has gained a lot of knowledge from Ngannou having spent two camps helping “The Predator” prepare for contests in the past.

“Absolutely they’ve trained together, they’ve done a couple of camps together. It was great training and they are showing each other a lot of things because Francis is a big guy—a much stronger guy—and Ciryl having him as a training partner is a huge [benefit]. Ciryl is something different; the way he moves, his skillset and his mental process, but yes, they’ve been working together a lot in the past.”

Despite his lofty ambition for Gane, Lopez underlined his belief that undefeated Brazilian opponent Raphael Pessoa is the toughest test of the fledgling pro’s career.

“I think he’s the toughest challenge for Ciryl so far when we’re talking about MMA,” Lopez said. “I think he can knockout anyone in the heavyweight division, but [Pessoa] has very strong jiu-jitsu and very unique wrestling—I’ve never seen anyone take people down like he does. Ciryl has been training very hard, he’s ready and I think this is a good step up, but Pessoa is definitely he’s toughest fight to date.”

Lopez is confident that Gane’s performance could be a big talking point in the aftermath of UFC Uruguay. He’s also confident that the undefeated striking ace will become one of the faces of the sport over the next decade.

“I definitely feel like something huge is going to happen; Saturday will be the beginning of something big. I don’t know if he will have the opportunity to display everything that he knows, but I do know that Ciryl will change the face of MMA in time. We are looking at one of the most mentally powerful fighters we’ve ever had. I think France will have the face of world in terms of every martial art combined for the next decade,” he said.

“It’s something different and I feel like it’s something special. I’m not saying that because he’s my student, I just really feel like he’s got the whole package. Everything is perfect with him; he’s nice kid, he’s got a nice family, he’s kind and he’s tough as hell. If you’re asking me if people will be talking about Ciryl after Saturday, I’d tell you that people will be talking about this guy for the next 10 years.”

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