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Francis Ngannou says it’s ‘hard to be impressed’ by Ciryl Gane: ‘He’s good, but I’m the champ’

Ciryl Gane pulled off a stunning knockout of Tai Tuivasa to cap off UFC Paris – but don’t expect Francis Ngannou to praise him too much.

The UFC heavyweight champion was sitting cageside for the promotion’s first-ever event in France, and even he was wowed by the conclusion of the fight after Gane blasted Tuivasa with a barrage of punches to score the finish after a wild back-and-forth battle through three rounds. You can see Ngannou’s reaction to the ending above.

That said, Ngannou remembers that he just beat Gane in fairly one-sided fashion this past January. He’ll give credit where credit is due, but he can only rave about his former training partner so much.

“Well, I know he’s a great fighter,” Ngannou said about Gane on the ESPN post-fight show after UFC Paris. “It’s hard to respond to that question for a guy that I beat if I’m impressed with him. I mean he’s here for a reason. I fought him for a reason, because he’s the No. 1 contender.

“Yes, he’s good, but I’m the champ. So really hard to be impressed. Great performance.”

Ngannou’s reaction comes after Gane nearly suffered a knockout in the second round when Tuivasa clubbed him with a punch that dropped the one-time interim heavyweight champion to the canvas.

Just when it looked like Tuivasa might pull off the upset, Gane recovered and then started unleashing a series of blistering body kicks that completely changed the momentum of the fight. Eventually, Gane connected with the punches that put Tuivasa away, which put him back in the win column after falling to Ngannou in a losing bid to become undisputed heavyweight king.

“That fight was very electric, though,” Ngannou said of Saturday’s main event. “It was good action in the fight, and then at some point you see the fight was half-half, and then it switched back to Ciryl’s side, which is what I thought.

“Because as far as distance, he’s good at controlling that and he was able to apply that in the fight tonight. You can see the body kicks, that’s what got him the victory. He [had a strategical], technical type of a fight.”

Even with the win, it seems unlikely that Gane will get an immediate shot at Ngannou considering they just fought eight months ago. Still, the knockout definitely puts “Bon Gamin” back in the hunt for another title shot.

As far as what’s actually next for Ngannou, that remains to be seen as he continues to recover from knee surgery following his win over Gane. Prior to UFC 270, he suffered a torn ACL, which required him to undergo reconstructive surgery and will likely keep him sidelined through the remainder of the year.

Add to that, Ngannou is expected to become a free agent in 2023 after fighting out his current deal with the UFC, though the two sides are still expected to stay in communication on a potential agreement for a new contract.

“I don’t have any whispers [about what’s next] right now since I don’t have any timeline for the return,” Ngannou said. “I’m going to see the doctor I think one week from now. I’m following up with the doctor so they’re going to check and see how it’s going.

“But it’s going pretty good, but you have to give it some time. It’s not like it’s going to be great. It’s been five months so kind of have some more time.”

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