It wasn’t the main event many expected but Ciryl Gane was still dominant over five rounds to win a unanimous decision over Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC Vegas 20.
The undefeated Frenchman, who many believe could be the future of the heavyweight division, was tactical and technical while displaying a nasty jab, looking for numerous takedowns and showcasing good defense to avoid Rozenstruik’s powerful counters to win every round over 25 minutes.
All three judges gave Gane the decision with 50-45 scores as he moves to 8-0 in his career.
“I don’t make a real big show for the fans,” Gane said after going to decision for only the second time in his career. “I got a big win so I’m really happy for that. This guy is really tough and dangerous and I just want to manage it and I did it.
“I expected a little bit more from him, more attacks, more pressure. I was a little bit surprised for that. I’m happy.”
The heavyweights were understandably tentative considering the concussive force both can produce with a single punch. While Gane landed the first good shot of the fight with a lightning quick jab, he didn’t stick with that strike for the remainder of the round while being wary of Rozenstruik’s power if he got over aggressive.
As the fight moved into the second round, Gane got more comfortable tossing out that lead jab because he saw that Rozenstruik was mostly reacting to his combinations rather than pressing forward with his own offense. That allowed Gane to fight at a distance, which included a number of stiff kicks to the legs as well.
While his output wasn’t overwhelming, Gane was constantly switching stances, throwing that jab and then he began following with a power punch behind it. Once Gane started committing to his combinations, Rozenstruik was ready to fire back with heavy leather from both hands but he just wasn’t able to land on target.
With the fight fading into the final two rounds, Gane was definitely in charge, keeping Rozenstruik on the end of his punches and kicks while still being wary of getting caught with a haymaker. There was no desperation comeback from Rozenstruik this time around like his win over Alistair Overeem as Gane continued to do just enough at distance and then looking for the takedown to win the decision.
When the fight ended, Gane was obviously happy to get the victory and continue his climb up the heavyweight ranks but his reaction afterwards showed that he wanted to produce more than just a unanimous decision.
That said, Gane is now in a position where he could be a single win away from challenging for gold, although he promises to stay ready just in case he gets the call as the heavyweight title goes up for grabs in March as Stipe Miocic faces Francis Ngannou at UFC 260.
“I want to be in this position now,” Gane said. “I feel confident. If some guy has an injury for the belt, I’m here.”