When he got in the cage Saturday at Accor Arena, typically chill heavyweight Gane (12-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) admits he felt the pressure. After all, the previous time fans saw him in the cage was a quick submission loss to Jon Jones at UFC 285.
“I’m not going to lie: I’ve got the pressure, and I want to do well,” Gane told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a post-fight news conference. “This is not a game of basketball or soccer. That’s different. Just that, you have some emotion that’s really different. (I was) a little bit afraid, a little bit pressured. You want to do well.”
Do well he did.
Gane picked apart and beat down fellow contender Serghei Spivac (16-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) en route to a second-round stoppage by TKO. Prior to the fight, Gane told MMA Junkie he wanted to put on a masterclass and by his post-fight assessment he did just that.
“That was my mission: to shine tonight because I want to go back to the belt,” Gane said. “This is my race, and I want to do that, yeah.”
The heavyweight title picture beyond the upcoming UFC 295 main event between champion Jones and Stipe Miocic is a bit clouded. Russian contender Sergei Pavlovich is expected to serve as the backup fighter for that bout, which takes place Nov. 11 in New York. Then there’s Tom Aspinall, the rising British heavyweight who was cageside for Saturday’s fights in Paris.
Given the uncertainty of the division, Gane didn’t call his shot. He wants to wait and see how things play out. While he doesn’t know his path, Gane knows where he wants to go.
“This is a new era for the heavyweight division, and you have some big movement,” Gane said. “We were waiting for a big title fight with two GOATs. Maybe they’re going to retire. So for me, a good way is to go back. It was my mission tonight to shine and prove I’m still here, and I want to go back to the belt. We will see. We will see for the moment.”
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