More than anything, Ciryl Gane just wants another shot at becoming UFC heavyweight champion.
Following a devastating knockout of Tai Tuivasa in the UFC Paris main event, Gane addressed his future with Francis Ngannou sidelined due to injury, Jon Jones waiting on his first heavyweight fight and Stipe Miocic still out of action.
While he’s never been big on calling out opponents, the 32-year-old French fighter admits welcoming somebody like Jones to heavyweight would be an ideal situation, especially considering the attention a fight of that magnitude would draw.
“To have Jon Jones in this division is going to put some more light, [and] the division is going to shine a little bit more and more,” Gane said on the UFC post-fight show. “That’s why I’m so happy to have this guy in this division.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen exactly. People talk about Stipe [Miocic] against Jones, but I’m here. I’m here. I don’t have a good answer [about who is next but] – maybe Jon Jones for the hype, for the money.”
Jones has teased his return for several months, though his most recent appearance in the cage took place more than two years ago when he defended the UFC light heavyweight title in February 2020.
Since that time, Jones has bulked up for his heavyweight debut. Rumors have swirled that his return could come against former champion Miocic with an interim title on the line, or perhaps he could wait until early 2023, when Ngannou is healthy enough to compete again.
While he’s already been an interim champion, Gane isn’t opposed to taking that challenge again, especially with so much uncertainty surrounding Ngannou due to his injury as well as his ongoing contract situation with the UFC; Ngannou has said he will be a free agent at the end of the year.
Gane fell to Ngannou by decision when they met back in January, but he would love the chance for a rematch, which is virtually guaranteed if he wins the interim title again.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be an interim title,” Gane said. “I don’t know when [Ngannou is] going to come back to the division. I don’t know when he wants to fight. I don’t know exactly. Like I said any time, anywhere, but now I’m looking for the belt.
“I understand the UFC needs to manage this situation. [Ngannou] has a big injury, a big surgery so I understand if I’m going to be waiting for a long time, yes, I’m OK with an interim title. This would put me on the line for the belt.”
While he’s never been in the business of turning down opponents, Gane said Blaydes isn’t a high priority right now — at least not as long as potential matchups against Jones, Miocic or Ngannou are still available.
“I think maybe Stipe or Jones [will be next],” Gane said. “I’m sorry, bro, if I have a choice, it’s not going to be [Curtis] Blaydes. This is not smart.”