MMA: “I’m not afraid but I’m nervous”, in the head of Ciryl Gane in the assault of a world belt

Second chance. On the night of Saturday March 4 to Sunday March 5 in France, live on RMC Sport, Ciryl Gane is once again setting out to conquer the UFC world heavyweight belt. Thirteen months after losing to Francis Ngannou, the Frenchman steps back into the cage to challenge American Jon Jones for UFC 285. The American league sticks a number to its events when a world belt is at stake.

If he wins this fight of titans, Ciryl Gane will be the world champion in the most prestigious category of the most powerful MMA league in the world. He will be the new king of MMA. He will also not be far from being considered the strongest man on the planet. Before getting there, the native of La Roche-sur-Yon (Vendée) and MMA Factory fighter in Paris shares with us everything he feels before, during and after such a duel.

Arrival in Las Vegas

“I landed in Las Vegas about ten days before D-Day. Until then, I remained very focused but above all I tried to take advantage of the family and my loved ones as much as possible. It was arriving at Vegas time that I entered a bubble to enter the fight. There were all the requests to be fulfilled. There, now that’s it, we’re really there. »

VIDEO. Ciryl Gane winner of her fight in Paris: “We really got on it, I didn’t go with a dead hand”

The day of the fight

“This Saturday, I get up and have breakfast, my priority. I try to stay classic and enjoy the day with my team so as not to think too much about the evening. We discuss everything and nothing, just to not make the fight too early in the head. In the early afternoon, I take a short nap. After, I quietly pack my bag, I get on the bus that takes us to the T-Mobile Arena, the very large room in Vegas, where the biggest MMA fights take place in front of 18,000 fans. I have already fought in Vegas but not in this room. From there, boom! Let’s go. »

In the locker room

“Here too, I make sure that everything remains as quiet as possible: I start the warm-up with a certain routine. There, that’s it, I’m completely in the fight. I visualize the adversary. I already know it almost by heart having seen it on video for hours. That said, knowing it well does not guarantee anything at all. Nothing tells me that he didn’t change his strategy at the last moment to face me. So I also prepare myself, at that time, for all eventualities so as not to be surprised. »

Arrival in the cage

“Only one thing guides me at this moment: concentration so as not to let go. There are many who say and think that we go to an MMA fight as if we were going to war. No way ! It’s silly to compare MMA to a war, especially right now when there are real ones. I never think like that. I don’t have any bad feelings when I climb the few steps that lead into the cage. MMA is just a sport. It’s my pleasure, my passion, my job. That’s what I like. So I’m not getting into the octagon to risk my life. I just have a sporting challenge to accomplish with a guy in front of me who is probably in the same state of mind and facing the same challenge to overcome. »

On September 3, 2022, Ciryl Gane won by KO in front of Australian Tai Tuivasa at the AccorArena in Paris. SUSA / Icon Sport

During the fight

“I’m not afraid but I’m nervous because it’s an important moment. I am like a singer in front of his audience. Even if the guy knows his song by heart, he can have a hole, a bad patch. Stage fright is normal and even important to perform well. When the fight starts, I’m only focused on the guy in front. My brain is 100% focused on him and I can’t see what’s going on next. I don’t see the audience, I hear almost nothing at all. I’m like a Formula 1 driver who only looks ahead and thinks of nothing else. »

When a blow comes

“Generally, when I receive a blow, I don’t have time to ask myself the slightest question at the time. It is too fast. On the other hand, I must very quickly analyze why I received it so as not to take a second one immediately behind. It’s exactly the same thing when it’s me who gives one: you have to very quickly understand why to do it again. Again, the brain works 100% to understand. I come back to my racing driver: if he has an obstacle on the road, he adapts in a second to avoid it. It is the same for me. Focus, focus, again and again. »

During the breaks

“The challenge between each round and during the rare moments of rest is to stay lucid. This is where I discuss with the coaches and analyze what worked well or not at all. Communication in these times is very important. Essential, even. It is also necessary to breathe to regain strength. »

When the fight ends

“So already, I can’t imagine that it’s going to end badly for me (smile). I don’t consider the other option. So I see myself raising my arms in victory. If so, I have a tremendous sense of joy, satisfaction, achievement and accomplishment flowing through me. I can’t wait to be able to share all this with my loved ones. »

If it ever goes wrong…

“Since you insist (laughter)… You know, for me this fight is first and foremost an opportunity to face a guy like Jon Jones. It’s a fight for a world belt in an absolutely amazing place. If I lose and I had a very, very good fight, no one will be killed. I am a competitor and a hell of a competitor and I hate second place. I’m not in Vegas for that. If I lose, there will be disappointment but if I lose having given everything, it will be without regret. It will happen what must happen. »

Jon Jones during his fight against Anthony Smith in March 2019.
Jon Jones during his fight against Anthony Smith in March 2019. USA TODAY Sports/Stephen R. Sylvanie

The days after

“Let’s go back to the scenario where I win, okay? I know that if I am world champion, my life will completely change. To have this world champion belt in the most prestigious category, that’s all I want, all I’m looking for. It will open up lots of opportunities for a career that never lasts long. This belt is the finest of all in a sport that is the most complete and versatile of all. Anyway, that’s my opinion… We MMA fighters are modern day gladiators and maybe, I mean maybe, after this fight I will be symbolically considered the strongest man of the planet. It’s cool, right? »



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