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Ciryl Gane ‘very comfortable’ fighting ex-teammate Francis Ngannou for UFC heavyweight title

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UFC Fight Night: Gane vs. Volkov Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC heavyweight Ciryl Gane believes it’s his time to get a shot at the heavyweight title, and he wouldn’t mind fighting his former teammate Francis Ngannou for the belt.

After dominating Alexander Volkov in the headliner of UFC Vegas 30, Gane said he’s willing to wait for a title opportunity — if there is one. Ngannou’s UFC title defense against Derrick Lewis isn’t officially set, though it’s reportedly being considered to take place in September.

That would put Gane on the shelf potentially for six to nine months depending on the outcome of the title fight and the condition of the winner. But the 31-year-old Frenchman said he could use a layoff to improve on himself and welcome a new baby into his family.

And if either Lewis or Ngannou gets injured, Gane is happy to step in.

“I think today I proved I don’t need another fight for a title shot,” Gane said. “So tomorrow, if the UFC wants to match me for the title shot, I’m ready.”

The winner of the heavyweight title also bears some significance for Gane, who used to be a training partner of Ngannou’s as they fought their way up the heavyweight ranks in MMA. Ngannou famously traveled from his native Cameroon and slept in a parking garage before finding the MMA Factory and coach Fernand Lopez.

Asked about how their sparring sessions went, Gane replied, “This man is really tough. It’s not a joke.”

But he saw no issues with fighting his former teammate, who eventually moved from Paris to the UFC Performance Institute and Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.

“I’m comfortable about this matchup if this matchup is going to happen,” Gane said. “It was a shame before the title. Now, for the title, I’m really comfortable with this situation, because we’re not in the same gym. If we’re going to fight for the belt, this is beautiful for me, for him, for my coach, and the MMA Factory.”

Gane said it was Lopez that gave him the motivation to dominate Volkov over five rounds by declaring that the winner of the fight was the fighter willing to die in the cage. For critics who might complain that a finish once again eluded him, Gane said there was more than enough to celebrate.

“I kept focus on the target, and we knew what the target was: Make pressure, get inside, try to finish the fight like every time, and go to war,” he said.