With Curtis Blaydes’ loss to the ever-infuriating Derrick Lewis this past weekend, heavyweight’s hope to have a truly skilled fighter as its champion took a massive hit. But out of the supposed darkness, a light still shines on in this void. This light’s name is Ciryl Gane, and he just might be the chosen one.
The Frenchman entered into the UFC inexperienced at 3-0, but it did not take “Bon Gamin” very long to impress UFC fans. With 4 straight wins in the promotion and his first main event coming up in a few days, Gane has the chance to insert himself into the heavyweight title picture very soon.
Throughout this article, I’m taking a deep dive into the techniques that has made Gane a top heavyweight in an astonishingly fast period of time.
Let me set the scene for Gane’s debut.
It’s the prelims of a fight night in Montevideo, Uruguay. A 3-0 Ciryl Gane is booked against heavy-handed Jiu-Jitsu fighter Raphael Pessoa. Pessoa, not well-known for his exceeding technical ability, is about to unknowingly face one of the most promising prospects in the sport. It did not take very long for Gane to submit Pessoa, but in the little fight time he had that night, he impressed the world. This is how he did it.
Gane starts the fight with his signature bouncing movement, moving laterally, gauging the direction Pessoa will try and move. Pessoa fires a leg kick with a telegraphed lead, so Gane is able to dodge easily. As soon as the kick misses, Gane capitalizes on Pessoa’s temporary loss of balance by pushing him back using a karate stance.
Pessoa seeing the karate stance, body completely sideways and arms at a right angle, backs up quickly to avoid a kick. From the opening exchange, Gane has established the ability to push Pessoa back.
To show how wise Gane was to Pessoa’s attacks, a sequence early in the first exemplifies this perfectly. Pessoa throws out a jab feint (pictured below) but Gane knows he is at a far enough range to easily dodge Pessoa’s jab so he reads it as a feint and a setup for a big overhand. Gane sees Pessoa’s knees bent forward and his shoulders hunched which is a telegraph for a burst of forwarding momentum.
To set up the dodge, Gane slightly bends his back knee and moves it back so he can have a base to dodge from. When the overhand comes in, Gane is able to shoot his back leg out which allows Gane to move his massive frame down fast enough to duck under the overhand completely.
With the pressure Gane is establishing with his feints and karate stance there is another big aspect of Gane’s game that reveals itself in this fight, his stance switches. Ciryl Gane switches stances with a high frequency for a variety of reasons, but in the Pessoa fight, he uses it for evasive reasons.
Gane’s cage vision is elite and it is uncanny how he can see moves coming and move fast enough to set up where he wants to be. Let me bring you to just over a minute gone by in the first round against Pessoa. Gane makes Pessoa bite hard on an advancing feint, which leaves Pessoa up against the cage. Pessoa wants to gain some space again so he throws a spinning kick.
Gane sees Pessoa load up the kick, so he switches his stance, ever so slightly moving his head out of the way. With the new stance, Gane feints again and is able to put Pessoa right back up against the cage again. This level of defensive vision is a huge rarity at heavyweight. Gane would go on to submit the Jiu-Jitsu ace Pessoa a few minutes later. On we go to Singapore to watch his utter dismantling of “Lord Kong” Don’Tale Mayes.