In his first UFC main event, Ciryl Gane pitched a shutout while winning every round against Jairzinho Rozenstruik to remain undefeated in his career.
Despite the overwhelming dominance he displayed, the 30-year-old French heavyweight didn’t exactly set the world on fire with a largely technical performance that didn’t feature a single knockdown over 25 minutes.
With the spotlight shining down on Gane on Saturday night, UFC President Dana White admittedly wanted to see a little bit more out of him, especially with an opportunity to really draw attention to himself in a headlining fight.
“Everybody’s talking about Ciryl being this big contender, but look what Francis [Ngannou] did to Jairzinho,” White told Yahoo Sports’ reporter Kevin Iole after UFC Vegas 20 ended while referencing Ngannou’s devastating 20-second knockout over Rozenstruik from this past May.
“This was [Ciryl Gane’s] coming out party and his chance to show the world who he is. He won, but let’s leave it at that, he won.”
While that kind of criticism is never what a fighter wants to hear after arguably the biggest win of their career, Gane took it in stride.
He certainly knows why White would want to see a more entertaining fight with a highlight reel finish, but he still feels satisfied because he got the win, and that’s ultimately what matters most.
“I can understand that – he is the boss and he wants to make money, so he wants a guy [who’s] bankable,” Gane said at the UFC Vegas 20 post-fight press conference. “We know, people want the show, want the big KO.
“Yes, I don’t finish the fight. I tried, but I don’t do it. So I can understand that, but I’m OK.”
Immediately after the fight ended, Gane was just as critical of his victory because he wanted to deliver a jaw-dropping performance much like White hoped to witness.
A few words from his head coach Fernand Lopez convinced Gane that while his win wasn’t the most memorable fight of his career, he still has a lot to be proud about after earning his eight consecutive victory in a row.
“I remember that I tried to finish the fight,” Gane explained. “I didn’t but I tried to finish the fight and yes, we managed the fight very well so yes I’m happy. I think did it well. I managed the fight on the feet. I tried to go down, I go down and I did the takedown. I think I manage well the fight on the feet.”
“I was not really happy but [my head coach] said ‘you did very well, you won five rounds of a fight.’ So I’m happy. I think I proved something. I can go five rounds and I can manage five rounds. I’m really comfortable with five rounds.”
With the win, Gane will undoubtedly find himself moving into the top-five rankings at heavyweight with only a couple of potential options ahead of him before competing for a UFC title.
In his mind, Gane feels like he’s ready right now to challenge for the championship, and he’ll be keeping a close eye on the upcoming rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27.
“Oh yes, I think I can talk to the title,” Gane said. “I think the people like a man like me. Young, a little experience but I manage it very well. I’m undefeated. I think I’m only one undefeated in the rankings. So yes, I think I’m legit.
“So I want to say to everybody, yes, if for the [title fight] next month, if someone is injured, I’m here. No problem.