Sean O’Malley sides with ‘freak of nature’ Francis Ngannou but Colby Covington is backing Cyril Gane’s superior footwork to wear out the champion – fighters offer their predictions for UFC 270 clash
- Francis Ngannou will take on Ciryl Gane for the heavyweight title at UFC 270
- ‘Predator’ won belt last year with KO over Stipe Miocic and this is first defence
- Bookies have the French challenger as a marginal favourite over champion
- And professional fighters are divided over which man will come out on top
All eyes will be on the main event of UFC 270 this weekend with Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane taking centre stage.
Their heavyweight showdown is one of the most highly anticipated in the division’s history, partly because it is such a tough one to call.
Ngannou has been on a roll, knocking out his last five opponents in either the first or second round, while Gane has taken top fighters apart with his skill and movement.
Francis Ngannou (left) and Ciryl Gane (right) fight for the heavyweight title this weekend
The bookies have the French challenger as a marginal favourite, but what do their peer predict for Saturday night’s headline act?
Curtis Blayes, who was knocked out by Ngannou in 2018, is actually picking against the champion.
He told told Watch MMA: ‘Gane is smart, I think he avoids the brawl just like he did with Derrick Lewis, almost like the same fight.’
Colourful bantamweight Sean O’Malley went the other way, picking the Cameroon KO artist. He said: ‘Gane has better actual technique and skills but Francis is just a f***ing freak of nature, Francis is just different, he’s a different animal.’
And Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson agreed: ‘Ciryl Gane I think is faster, he is the technician, he’s got some power.
Ngannou (left) has the power advantage but Gane is thought to be more technical
Sean O’Malley is backing the champion to get the job done against the Frenchman
‘But Ngannou can hit you with one little shot on the tip of the nose and put you to sleep. I’m going to lean towards Ngannou.’
British rising star Tom Aspinall, who could cross paths with both men at some point, sat on the fence, telling Michael Bisping’s Believe You Me podcast: ‘Ngannou, the way he fights has a massive fear factor with him, kind of like a prime Mike Tyson, nobody wants to get hit by him.
‘But Gane is unique in his skillset, I think he has what it takes to win. I could see Gane winning quite comfortably but at the same time wouldn’t be surprised if he was knocked out in 30 seconds. With that Ngannou power you just never know.’
Colby Covington is always game for a prediction and was another to pin his sails to Gane’s mast.
Colby Covington thinks that the challenger will have the superior cardio in the fight
He told Helen Yee Sports: ‘I think Cyril will get him, with his footwork, the way he moves around and kickboxes, he’s really efficient with his energy, not looking to load up and knock you out like Francis is, he’ll wear Francis out.
‘We saw in the first Stipe fight that he has that quit in him. He put his head down and you could just see he gassed out. My official prediction is that Gane gets the heavyweight title.’
While former UFC lightweight, now analyst and broadcaster, Paul Felder, said: ‘I think it is going to be a tough battle early on, it will be tactical early on, they know each other, they’ve sparred each other, my heart and my gut goes with Francis.
‘I just think he’s got the special sauce on that hand. If he lands one of those, it’s lights out.
While Chris Daukaus and Jack Hermansson opted for the challenger. Daukaus, who lost to Derrick Lewis recently, told James Lynch: ‘I know Gane’s coach used to coach Francis so I don’t know if they’re going to have any kind of insight.
Gane is relatively inexperienced at the top level but is backed by the bookies to win
‘But that was years ago, maybe Francis is a completely different fighter now.
‘If Ciryl can stay at range I think he’ll be able to pick Francis apart. I don’t think Francis can close that gap without getting hit.
Hermansson added: ‘Gane has been so good, just seems like nobody has anything on him, I think he’ll be the next champion.’
It will be fascinating to see who called it correctly when the dust has settled on Sunday morning.
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