Just 10 fights into his professional career, Ciryl Gane is a UFC champion.
The French heavyweight was perfect from start to finish as he simply overwhelmed Derrick Lewis with speed and power before finally unleashing a vicious combinations of shots in the third round that helped him secure a third-round TKO stoppage in the UFC 265 main event.
The end came at 4:11 in the third round as Gane claimed the interim heavyweight title, which sets up an inevitable showdown with his former training partner Francis Ngannou.
“I’m happy but I’m feeling a bit bad for my man in front of his fans,” Gane said while addressing Lewis in his hometown of Houston. “I’m happy, I’m proud. Everybody knows what is my game plan. I like to move. No secret, it was the game plan, of course.
“This is for [Fernand Lopez]. This is for the whole team. This is not just for me. This is for my coach. This is for the fans, for the country.”
It was a smart strategy all night long for Gane as he stayed on the outside, poking at Lewis with leg kicks and staying away from the immense power coming back from “The Black Beast.” Lewis was staying near the cage in an attempt to goad Gane into an exchange but the Frenchman was doing his job by not taking the bait.
Late in the opening round, Gane unleashed a heavy leg kick followed by a jab that caught Lewis directly in the eye that had him wincing as he looked to reset and avoid any further damage.
While Gane was controlling the pace, his output wasn’t so much that Lewis was being forced to constantly defend combinations but his own offense was also almost non-existent. In the clinch, Gane was able to muscle Lewis around the cage and he even managed to land a powerful elbow over the top during his escape to reset in the center of the cage.
As the third round got started, Gane was attacking the leg with more frequency as he started to really dig into Lewis’ thigh to start chopping down the Houston native.
With less than two minutes remaining in the frame, Gane unleashed another leg kick that buckled Lewis at the knees and that was exactly what the 31-year-old heavyweight needed to start unloading his biggest punches in order to get the finish.
Gane launched a huge uppercut that clipped Lewis and he continued to blast away while still being wary not to overcommit and possibly catch a haymaker in return. Finally after he hammered Lewis with another shot that finally dropped him to the canvas, Gane was firing away with punches from the top and referee Dan Miragliotta had no choice but to stop the contest.
It was an ultra-impressive showing from Gane, who is remains undefeated and now holds a piece of the heavyweight title as he awaits an eventual unification fight with Ngannou.
When asked about his expected clash with “The Predator,” Gane only had a few words for arguably one of the most terrifying knockout artists to ever compete in the UFC and a fighter he previously called a teammate.
“Let’s go,” Gane said. “Just let’s go.”