Ciryl Gane only has seven professional MMA fights under his belt. But he’s already built himself into a heavyweight contender, and could pave a fast track to a title shot on Saturday night if he beats Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Fight Night 186 in Las Vegas.
Gane (7-0) has won all four of his UFC bouts, including finishing Junior dos Santos in the second round of his last fight in December.
Gane Rapidly Ascending UFC Ranks
It’s rare for a fighter with so little experience to jump right to the UFC, let alone establish themselves as the No. 7 contender in their division. But the 30-year-old Gane possesses a strong kickboxing background, and burst onto the MMA scene with a series of wins against relatively strong regional-level competition. He hasn’t slowed down since joining the UFC.
“This is such an important fight for me,” Gane told Yahoo Sports. “Everyone wants to fight [for the title] but that is in the future. Right now, all I am thinking about is this guy.”
Rozenstruik (11-1) comes into the fight with title aspirations of his own. Like Gane, his last win was also a second-round TKO over dos Santos, his coming a few months earlier in August. That win showed that Rozenstruik could quickly bounce back from his first career loss, a 20-second knockout at the hands of Francis Ngannou.
Other than that blemish, Rozenstruik’s UFC record is flawless, winning his other five fights in the promotion by knockout or TKO. His combination of power and the patience to wait for his opportunities to strike could be the formula to stop Gane’s momentum.
“Right now, this guy has a lot of hype. It’s a big opportunity to kill the hype and show exactly what I am,” Rozenstruik told the South China Morning Post. “I worked hard to be there so it’s an opportunity to make a statement that I belong [at] the top and I’m a title contender. I’m happy that I can be busy, fight again, stay sharp. So I can be ready for what’s coming next.”
Knockout Power Gives Underdog a Puncher’s Chance
FanDuel Sportsbook has installed Gane as the -275 favorite over Rozenstruik (+225). Of the two, Gane possesses the better all-around game. The Frenchman is surprisingly quick for a heavyweight, and his kickboxing background provides him with an array of functional and effective striking opportunities.
|UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gane Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Ciryl Gane: -275||Jairzinho Rozenstruik: +225|
|Magomed Ankalaev: -360||Nikita Krylov: +290|
|Mayra Bueno Silva: -120||Montana De La Rosa: +102|
|Jimmie Rivera: -148||Pedro Munhoz: +126|
|Alex Caceres: -196||Kevin Croom: +164|
But Rozenstruik holds one important advantage: his pure knockout power, which often proves to be the decisive factor in heavyweight fights. If Rozenstruik can stay in the fight, there’s a chance he’ll find his spot to finish Gane somewhere over the course of 25 minutes.
“I have to stop him because I don’t want to give my spot away,” Rozenstruik said. “He likes to move around, he bounces around. He does his elbows, he does his kicks. So I’m going to be there to find the opportunity to put him straight.”