Not only does Smith think Gane beats Ngannou, but he believes he’s the man to beat former foe Jon Jones (26-1 MMA, 20-1 UFC), who after years of reigning supreme in the light heavyweight division is gearing up for his heavyweight debut.
“I think Ciryl Gane is the real deal,” Smith said on SiriusXM’s :Fight Nation.” “I’m making the bold prediction, I think Ciryl Gane beats Francis Ngannou, and I think he does it fairly handily. I also think Ciryl Gane beats Jon Jones.”
Do YOU agree?!
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 22, 2021
Minus the one disqualification blemish on Jones’ record, he is yet to be beaten in his career. The former UFC light heavyweight king is seeking a new challenge by moving up a weight class, but Smith thinks Gane has all the attributes to give him problems.
“When Jon Jones finds someone who matches him physically and athletically, I think that then you’re going to have to check down on his list to skill and technique,” Smith said. “I think with Ciryl Gane, I think he loses that battle. I think Ciryl Gane matches his size and athletic ability, his speed, his movement.
“Ciryl Gane’s absolutely the better striker for sure. The little caveat there is if Ciryl Gane can defend a takedown, I think that he beats Jon Jones, and I think it’s boring. I think it’s a game of darts, and they’re just throwing darts at each other. I just think that Ciryl Gane is the higher-level striker. I think he manages distance as well as – maybe a little bit better than – Jon Jones.”
Smith challenged Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 235 in 2019 but after five rounds of battle, “Lionheart” was ultimately overwhelmed. But based off of what he’s seen from Gane, he thinks the Frenchman beats Jones at his own game.
“Being in there with Jon Jones for 25 minutes, I was expecting some power wrestler that I was going to really struggle with,” Smith said. “He shot 10 takedowns, and I stuffed eight of them. I wasn’t like a Division I wrestler. I just was able to manage that wrestling.
“Once we got into the clinch, that’s when I started having problems because his arms are long. He is deceptively strong. The clinch game is going to be a little funky with those guys, but if they’re just at a distance and Jon Jones plays his game, I think he loses at his own game there.”
Photos: Ciryl Gane through the years
view 31 images
Twitter reacts to Ciryl Gane’s dominant TKO of Derrick Lewis for interim belt at UFC 265