Ahead of the highly anticipated fight between Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane, the latter made waves with recent comments about being “lazy” when it comes to his training.
Now Gane’s head coach wants to clarify some misconceptions.
Gane faces the returning Jones in the main event of UFC 285 for the vacant UFC heavyweight title on March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. In a recent interview with La Sueur, Gane appeared to say that he only takes his training seriously when he has a date and opponent booked.
“I love grappling, but unfortunately, I’m lazy — that’s the truth,” Gane said. “I only train when a fight is announced. I have a lot of media obligations. Professional opportunities outside of the sport. You can’t say no to all these things. I also have to give time to my family, rest well.”
“If I look back at my career, this a regret: I only train when a fight is announced. I had my fight against [Tai Tuivasa], barely trained since then, and now I’m back at it since the Jones fight has been announced.”
While Lopez says that the former interim champion has regretted perhaps being a bit lazy, it was meant to be said in the past tense.
“What I want to clarify is that, he said on that sentence, ‘That’s something that I regret.’ I’ve been [saying in the past], Ciryl is a lazy guy,” Lopez told MMA Fighting. “But now I’m saying that Ciryl was a lazy guy. After the fight with Francis, we went back straight away to the training and we started training after the fight against Derrick Lewis, he got hurt on the hand. But as soon as the doctor gave the authorization to start training, we started the camp with him.
“Matter of fact, when we went to [Nassourdine Imavov’s] fight in Vegas, we brought a guy with us who is one of the best grapplers we’ve ever had in France. Why did we [bring] this guy out with us in Vegas? That was only because I needed someone to come with us to keep training Ciryl all the time.”
Gane’s lone loss was to Ngannou at UFC 270 in January 2022, which, as of now, turned out to be the final UFC fight and title defense of Ngannou’s career after becoming a free agent. While the loss taught Gane a lot of valuable lessons from an in-cage perspective, Lopez also revealed that it opened up a lot of things from a mental perspective as well, leaving Gane in a position to be open and honest about mistakes he’s made in the past with his grappling ability.
According to the head coach at MMA Factory in Paris, Gane has a natural ability to learn, and his grappling has improved leaps and bounds since his loss to Ngannou.
“What he’s saying is that, before, he was the lazy guy that was just training, and what I love about my relationship with him is that we sat down after the fight with Francis about all of these things,” Lopez said. “We started to speak, and we were working through it with mental conditioning, And I was saying that my regret is that the development only happens when we don’t have a date. Whenever you have a date, all of the focus you should go on the opponent instead of the developing aspect. So what I’m saying is that since the loss to Francis, everything was back in order.
“And now, what he’s trying to say is that he’s very talented on the grappling. He loves the movement of the grappling. Like, we brought a guy named Devonte, [known as] Bones BJJ. He has the [length] like Jon Jones at the same time is [a BJJ] world champion. And this guy was like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know that Ciryl loved grappling that much. He’s always trying to roll around going for the heel hook, the banana split, the twister, the electric chair, all the big moves that we know. But there’s lack of fundamentals when he can hit so many great moves because he loves the ground.’
“But at the same time, what he regrets is that if he had kept busy a long time ago when he [started MMA], then he would be, maybe a brown belt, because he’s very talented. You can teach something to someone, and [they] don’t even understand the direction, the size, or [what is this]? Cyril catches on very quickly. You show him one move and he can catch on. You shoot one position, he can catch on. And because of that, it’s going so fast that now he’s regretting. It’s like, ‘Damn I was like when the fight is over, I stopped training and now I’m like wow I should have stayed busy so I can [be further ahead now].”
Jones returns to action after a three-year layoff, and in a new division after vacating the light heavyweight title following his decision win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020.
According to Lopez, it should not come as a shock that Gane — or anyone else in his position — would prefer having a longer stretch of time to prepare for a title fight when facing one of the all-time greats in Jones. At the same time, he wouldn’t be shocked if Jones was feeling a bit of pressure in his own right, more so because it seemed like all paths were leading toward a potential dream matchup with Ngannou for the heavyweight title.
“Other thing that I want to clarify, what he is saying is that there’s no surprise — you know that the camp started six, seven weeks before the fight,” Lopez explained. “We all knew when the fight was official, it was when [UFC President] Dana White said the fight was official. That was six weeks or seven weeks before the fight. So there’s no surprise when Ciryl is saying, ‘I would have preferred to train three months, four months instead of only training for like seven weeks.’ That’s what he’s saying. That is not trying to have an excuse saying that, ‘Well, if I don’t win the fight, it is because I didn’t have enough time to train.’ No, that’s not the mentality of Ciryl. What he’s saying here is, even for Jon Jones, who spent his time preparing for Francis Ngannou, now they announced that he will be fighting a different guy.
“This is a kid that brought the new standard of heavyweight movement and striking, and then you will fight him [instead of Francis], and you have only six weeks to prepare against him and find a good sparring partner that can imitate Ciryl. It’s not easy to do. That’s what Ciryl was saying. He’s not saying, ‘Well that sucks, I didn’t train enough.’ People try to take things [too] serious and [out of context] on the internet.”