Ciryl Gane had a feeling before his last fight that if he walked away with a win, he would soon after get a call from the UFC.
And he was right.
It was announced earlier this month that the top heavyweight prospect has signed with the UFC, just two weeks after his first-round TKO of Roggers Souza at TKO 48. Gane headlined the event, which took place May 24 in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada and marked Gane’s second defense of the TKO heavyweight title.
“We have been preparing for this news,” Gane told Bloody Elbow through a translator. “I am really happy because it is a perfect organization. We are good.”
Gane is set to meet fellow newcomer Raphael Pessoa at UFC Uruaguay on Aug. 10. The fight was scheduled for a TKO card earlier this year, but the entire event was cancelled.
Gane said he was pretty confident that the Souza fight would be his last under the TKO banner if he got his hand raised. Gane’s head coach and manager Fernand Lopez got a call from the UFC just a day later, Gane said.
“I knew it would happen sooner than later,” Gane said of his signing. “I was feeling good in TKO anyway. I needed more experience in TKO, so we waited a little bit. We knew that [the Souza fight] would be the last fight in TKO.”
Gane is only 3-0 as a professional MMA fighter; he made his pro debut in August 2018. All three of his bouts have taken place in TKO.
Gane hasn’t even been able to call himself a pro MMA fighter for a whole year, but he said he is not surprised the UFC was interested in him this early in his career.
“I think it’s the right time,” Gane said. “I think I belong in the UFC, my coach Fernand Lopez thinks I belong in the UFC. The matchmaker Mick Maynard thinks I belong there.
“I think it’s about the way I fight, the way I move. People like the way I fight because I’m always looking for the finish.”
So, if Gane belongs in the UFC at 3-0, what makes the 28-year-old different from all the fighters who aren’t ready for the big show until they’re eight, nine, or 10 fights deep into their careers?
“I’m a fast learner,” Gane said, adding that his Muay Thai experience has helped his progression, too. “I learn very quickly and progress very quickly.”
Gane trains in France at MMA Factory, where current UFC heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou started his career. Just looking at the two men, comparisons are bound to happen as Gane starts to get more notoriety. Gane shares similar physical traits to Ngannou; in fact, he is actually an inch taller than Ngannou at 6’5”.
Gane said Ngannou’s quick rise in the heavyweight division “inspired me a lot” and that he is “looking forward to doing the same thing.” However, if you think they are the same fighter, think again, Gane said.
“I can understand that people would compare us, because I’m coming from France like Francis, I’m coming from MMA Factory like Francis, I’m managed by Management Factory like Francis has (been) in the past,” Gane said. “I can understand people comparing us, but we are quite different. Francis is Francis, I am who I am.”
Gane said he is “happy, but not crazy happy” to be part of the UFC. This is what he wanted, of course, but it’s only one of many goals checked off his bucket list, he said.
“I’m aware of everything. I know what just happened,” Gane said. “It’s not the goal. The goal is not to get to the UFC. That’s the beginning of the journey.”