UFC interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane is not looking for any additional drama in his life or career.
In response to a pair of storylines that emerged from his title-winning performance over Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 and his expected title unifier against undisputed champ Francis Ngannou, the 31-year-old Frenchman batted aside any implications of discontent.
“I don’t have a bad feeling in myself, and when you see me, you know,” Gane said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.
With a new belt around his waist, Gane has cemented himself as one of the most talented heavyweights in the UFC’s biggest division. He’s also gotten a taste of the scrutiny that comes with his every move.
When Gane decided to reveal his disclosed $350,000 paycheck for fighting Lewis, many MMA observers took it as an indication that he was unhappy with his compensation, and by extension, the UFC’s business practices. Some seized on the figure to take a shot at the promotion, but Gane said his choice to pull back the curtain on his finances wasn’t about that.
“For me, it’s not a secret,” he said. “The people want to know how much I had for the bonus, everybody can know that. So for me, it’s not a secret. I’m not like French people [who say] I don’t want to talk about my money. That’s OK. I can talk about that.
“But I saw in the media a lot of people put this [in] the headline because the people think I’m not happy about that. No, I’m OK with that. You have a tax like with every job, and you have a team that spends a lot of time with you. My coach was [away] from his daughter for one month for me. So that’s normal to bring that for my team. So everything is correct. After that, the dollar with the Euro, yes, but it’s a game, and that’s OK. I just started three years ago, so no worries. This is the beginning of my career.”
Gane expects he’ll be taken care of as he continues to move up in the heavyweight division. Right now, that means a showdown with Ngannou, whose conflicts with the UFC and history with the interim champ have added new layers to the title unifier.
Although the heavyweights trained together at the MMA Factory in Paris, Gane said the undisputed champ had already relocated to Las Vegas by the time he joined the team. The extent of their training relationship, he said, was around 10 sparring sessions as Ngannou prepared for a fight with Alistair Overeem in 2017 at UFC 218. The relationship wasn’t personal.
“He’s not this kind of guy,” Gane said.
The same might not entirely be true for Gane’s coach, Fernand Lopez, who said he shepherded Ngannou from unknown prospect to UFC heavyweight champion and recently explained his frustrations over what he said was a lack of credit from his former charge. Lopez said his history with Ngannou wouldn’t cloud a future showdown.
For Gane, the fight is strictly business and nothing personal.
“That’s not my deal,” he said. “I just want to do my thing, and I think I’m great at it, and I want to do very well when I fight against Francis. I just want to do that with a good feeling.
“I’m not this kind of guy – I’m not jealous. ... [Later], I’m going to fight Francis, and I’m going to fight like I fought against Volkov, Junior dos Santos, Derrick Lewis. He’s another opponent. That’s is for me.”
After back-to-back camps and the birth of his second daughter, Gane needs some time to recover before he jumps back into a training camp. But he is open to the possibility of facing Ngannou in December or January. Of course, he’d love for the fight to take place in France, where MMA is now legal, even if the time difference might rule out a pay-per-view headliner.
Gane said it’s not his shared history with Ngannou that makes him confident in victory – it’s the natural gifts he brings to the octagon. They’re what separate him from his competition.
“I’m confident with every guy,” he said. “I proved it – I’ve done really great since I just started in MMA. And that’s because I’ve got this fight IQ, not just because I’m a good athlete. Not because I’ve got good skills. No, it’s because I’ve got this fight IQ.
“When I started in MMA, it was three years ago. But before that, I did three years in muay Thai, and it was my first experience in martial arts. When I started, I was really young, no experience, and I did very well because I’ve already got this fight IQ. That’s why I think today everything is possible against Francis. I know he’s going to be my hardest matchup, but I think everything is possible. I’m confident.”