Heavyweight champion Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) will fights interim champ Gane (10-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) in a title unification bout at UFC 270 on Jan. 22. It’s a highly anticipated matchup between former training partners.
Ngannou’s devastating power has shut the lights out for almost every heavyweight contender. But in his title-winning knockout performance against Stipe Miocic, not only was he able to avenge a 2018 loss, but he displayed a much more patient and composed version of himself.
“Before he won the title, Ngannou was just a strong, tough son of a gun,” Atlas told Submission Radio. “But he matured. His experience brought him down a road of learning. And he got better. And he was a lot better.
“He landed a counter left hook with Miocic – a counter left hook. He stepped back, Miocic reached in – bang. He threw a counter. That’s along the lines of the sweet science. That’s development.”
But in Gane, Ngannou is facing one of the more skilled, quick and tactical heavyweights on the roster. Atlas compared their matchup to Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder and thinks if Ngannou falls in love with his power too much like he has in the past, Gane will make him pay.
“He’s going to have that and more to beat this fella, because (Gane) has been developed,” Atlas said. “He’s had a head start on him as far as being that kind of intellectual fighter, being more than just a tough guy. And it’s going to be very interesting – it’s going to be very interesting. And I think it’s going to be interesting because of what I just said – because Ngannou has improved. But he better improve some more. He better continue improving, and he better not get himself into a fire fight where he’s just depending on his power. Because if that happens, he’ll wind up in the same position as Wilder wound up against Fury.”
Photos: Francis Ngannou through the years
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Photos: Ciryl Gane through the years
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