Ciryl Gane thinks Francis Ngannou’s recent improvements have been in his mindset more than his physical skills.

Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) said Ngannou always had those championship-caliber abilities when training under head coach Fernand Lopez at MMA Factory Paris, but just failed to stick to the game plan in his back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title and Derrick Lewis.

Lopez took a lot of heat for Ngannou’s strategy in his loss to Miocic and Ngannou never did anything to dissuade that notion. Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) eventually parted ways with MMA Factory and joined Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, where he showed a much more composed and patient form in his title-winning rematch against Miocic more than three years later.

While Gane lauded Ngannou’s new team for getting his head straight, he thinks Lopez deserves credit for his development.

“People like to say Francis improved a lot in his last fight, but Francis improved a lot already in MMA Factory” Gane told MMA Junkie. “But he had something in his mind, it was just that (holds up fist). When you know Fernand Lopez, this is not his tactic. The people think he just improved, but no – he did a lot in MMA Factory and he was already ready to do that before, but was just on his strategy to knock out the guys.

“But now, with his new team, I don’t know what the team did, but they did very well because now he manages the situation more. That’s great. He improved in that.”

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Gane captured the interim heavyweight title with a finish of Derrick Lewis, the record holder for most knockouts in UFC history. He is set to unify his belt with arguably the most devastating knockout artist in the sport at UFC 270 and sees himself implementing a similar game plan as he did against Lewis.

But Gane knows his former sparring partner brings a lot more to the table.

“This was a great answer for the media because people talk about the knockout power of Derrick Lewis,” Gane said. “We saw that I managed this very well. I stayed inside and it wasn’t a problem. So yes, I think it’s a little bit the same for Francis Ngannou when you’re talking about knockout power, – but Francis is more well-rounded. He can wrestle a little bit. He can do something in the ground game, so it’s a little bit different. Francis is more well-rounded than Derrick Lewis.

“Francis has more power than me, that’s for sure. So I’m going to manage this like every time. We’re going to – I don’t have a good word, but when you have a problem, you move away. You don’t go in front of it. So that’s it. That’s what we’re going to do.”


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