The fate of the heavyweight division hangs in the balance when champion Francis Ngannou collides with interim champion Cyril Gane in the main event of UFC 270 on Saturday night. Read on for our Ngannou versus Gane picks.
It’s a classic champion-versus-champion match.
In one corner, you have the reigning UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou. Blessed with terrifying, one-shot knockout power in his fists, “The Predator” proved his bonafides as the top heavyweight roaming the planet when he sent Stipe Miocic on a violent, unscheduled trip to the netherrealm in the main event of UFC 260 back in March. It was the culmination of a five-fight winning streak where all of the bouts ended via KO or TKO.
In the other corner, you have the interim UFC heavyweight champion Gane. The towering Frenchman won the temporary title with a thorough beatdown of perennial title contender Derrick Lewis back at UFC 265 in August. The TKO of a dangerous opponent like Lewis signaled Gane’s emergence as a true top-tier heavyweight and the biggest threat to Ngannou’s throne.
These behemoths briefly trained together at the MMA Factory in France back in 2018, so they’re both very aware of what the other is capable of.
Here are my picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC 270 heavyweight matchup between Ngannou and Gane (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5 star scale).
Ngannou vs. Gane Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 22, at 10 p.m. ET (main card)
TV: ESPN+, PPV
Location: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Ngannou vs. Gane Odds Analysis
When the odds opened for this bout, most bookmakers had the fight even, with both fighters sitting at -110. As the fight draws closer, the odds have actually swung in the challenger’s favor, likely due to Gane’s more technically complete striking skills. Gane is now sitting as the -150 favorite at both DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
It’s hard to leave plus-money on the table when someone hits as hard as Ngannou. The extremely dangerous underdog can be snatched up at +130 over at DraftKings.
Francis Ngannou Betting Profile
Ngannou has – and I can’t stress this enough – devastating, jaw-melting power.
Generally, when the 35-year-old hits someone, they go down. All 11 of the champion’s wins inside the Octagon have come via stoppage, and only two of those bouts saw the second round. His list of victims is impressive and includes Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, Curtis Blaydes, Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and the aforementioned Miocic. Four of those men have wrapped UFC titles around their waists, while one of them is a former Strikeforce and K-1 kickboxing champion.
Once a gaping hole in his game, Ngannou has shored up his takedown defense, as proven when he shucked off multiple attempts against Miocic. He also showed newfound patience in that bout, picking his shots carefully instead of freewheeling wild hammers.
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Cyril Gane Betting Profile
Gane’s ascent up the heavyweight ladder hasn’t been as violent, but he’s easily conquered every challenge thrown his way.
Like Ngannou, Gane’s resume includes victories over Rozenstruik and dos Santos, but unlike Ngannou, Gane counts Derrick Lewis among his extensive list of conquests. Ngannou wasn’t able to topple Lewis, instead losing a listless unanimous decision to the “Black Beast” back in July 2018. Sure, that was a long time ago, but it’s definitely something Gane can boast that Ngannou can’t.
A technically gifted striker with otherworldly speed for a heavyweight, Gane is definitely the superior athlete between the two, and might even have more avenues to win. This is likely why the odds have swung in his favor despite being the challenger on Saturday night.
Ngannou vs. Gane Picks
Ngannou to win (+130) ★★★
Ngannou by KO/TKO (+175) ★★★
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Ngannou vs. Gane Predictions
Ngannou to win (+130)
All of Gane’s litany of advantages (technical striking, variety of attack, etc.) could completely evaporate the moment Ngannou touches his chin. That isn’t to say Gane doesn’t have the requisite skills to usurp the throne and rip the interim tag off of his title. On the contrary, he’s a truly special heavyweight that will likely reign over the division at some point. But every time he’s within striking range of Ngannou, he’s in danger of being viciously separated from his senses.
If the patient, more measured Ngannou that triumphed over Miocic shows up, then I see him winning, and obviously winning by …
Ngannou by KO/TKO (+175)
A true knockout artist if there ever was one (the Picasso of punches? The Kahlo of KO?), if Ngannou is going to win, he’ll likely do it by aggressively escorting Gane to dreamland with a thundering right hand. There aren’t any other ways I see Ngannou emerging victorious. He’s not going to outpoint his French Foe, and it’s unlikely he’ll pull off a submission. No. Ngannou is going to do what he does best … put fools to sleep.
Ngannou-Gane picks made 1/20/2022 at 8:55 a.m. ET