Ciryl Gane became the first French fighter to capture a UFC world title when he won the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265 in Texas on Saturday night.
Gane, 31, claimed the vacant interim title by defeating hometown favourite Derrick Lewis in the main event in Houston.
It was only his 10th fight as a professional mixed martial artist.
“I’m happy, I’m proud,” said Gane after he won via TKO in the third round.
Gane utilised a smart gameplan as he fought knockout artist Lewis from distance, continually switching stances, using a plethora of leg kicks to keep Lewis on the back foot.
Those kicks started to add up heading into the third round and, after Lewis stumbled backwards following another thumping Gane leg kick, ‘Bon Gamin’ moved in looking for the finish.
Gane unloaded a flurry of strikes that forced Lewis to cover up against the cage. And, although Lewis gamely tried to fire back with punches, he was eventually sent to the canvas and stopped with ground strikes at the 4:11 mark as Gane completed a comprehensive victory with a TKO finish.
Gane dedicated the win to his coach Fernand Lopez and his team in Paris.
“This is for the whole team. This isn’t just for me,” he said.
“It’s for my coach, for MMA Factory, for my friends, my family, for the fans and my country. I’m very happy.”
Gane’s title-winning performance improved his perfect MMA record to 10- 0, with seven wins coming inside the distance.
It also set up a mouth-watering title unification bout with his former team-mate and training partner, the current undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou.
When asked whether he had a message for his former colleague, Gane said simply: “The fight will happen, so let’s go. Just let’s go.”—BBC