PARIS – Anyone, anywhere.
That’s long been the answer from Ciryl Gane when asked about future matchups. However, after his UFC Fight Night 209 TKO victory over Tai Tuivasa, things are a tad different. There’s a stipulation. Gane (11-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) is set on gold.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen exactly,” Gane told reporters including MMA Junkie at the post-fight news conference. “I think nobody is knowing what’s going to happen. They had a big turnover in this division at this moment. I don’t know if there’s going to be an interim title. I don’t know when he is going to come back if he stays in the division, Francis. I don’t know when he wants to fight (or is) able to fight. I don’t know exactly, but no matter who. I say every time, anyone-anywhere. But now I’m looking for the belt, yeah.”
Right now, Francis Ngannou currently holds the UFC heavyweight title. He is not currently booked as he continues to rehab his knee from surgery earlier in the year. Former champions Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones are also nearing returns. Perennial contender Curtis Blaydes also sits idly by.
The opponent doesn’t matter for Gane, just that he returns in a title opportunity. The public conversation has included potential interim titles. Gane is a former interim champion and doesn’t oppose doing that again.
“No, (I don’t mind) because I understand the UFC needs to manage this situation,” Gane said. “It’s not easy. He has big injuries and big surgeries, so I can understand. If I don’t want to wait a long time, then yes, I’m OK with an interim title. This would put me on the first line for the belt here.”
Gane is Ngannou’s most recent title defense. Former training partners, they fought at UFC 270 in January when Ngannou (17-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) defeated Gane by unanimous decision. Despite the result’s recency, Gane doesn’t think it’s indicative of a repeated outcome.
“I think Francis did very well because he had more experience, more maturity,” Gane said. “He did a really great (job). That’s why I don’t think he was way better than me on this day, but he did really better. If tomorrow I have my revenge, I must do a better (job).
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 209.