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Ciryl Gane poses before the UFC Fight night at Arc De Triomphe on August 29, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Zuffa LLC)
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Ciryl Gane Aims to Start Anew at Home in Paris

French Heavyweight Discusses Change In Mindset, Growing From Setbacks As He Readies To Face Serghei Spivac On Saturday At Accor Arena

August marked the start of Ciryl Gane’s sixth year as a professional mixed martial artist, and in that time, the charming and engaging French heavyweight has amassed 11 wins and two defeats, with eight of those victories coming by way of stoppage.

He’s been the interim UFC heavyweight champion and challenged for the undisputed title twice, coming up short in both instances, and for some reason, his struggles in those biggest moments, against two of the best talents to grace the Octagon in the last decade have become the only thing people speak about when it comes to the talented heavyweight contender.

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“I’m really focused on this fight — not the past or the future,” Gane said on Thursday, just 48 hours ahead of his showdown with Serghei Spivac that headlines this weekend’s return to Accor Arena in Paris. “My mindset maybe changed a little bit about that because I was focused on other people.

Ciryl Gane At Accor Arena In Paris, 2023 (Photo by John Barry/Zuffa LLC)
Ciryl Gane At Accor Arena In Paris, 2023 (Photo by John Barry/Zuffa LLC)

“I did a mistake, one time, and so I’m going to take off that sheet (of paper) and now I’m re-focused on my strengths. I know everything is possible this Saturday.”

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Speaking to Gane throughout his rapid ascent up the heavyweight rankings, the 33-year-old fighter always preached patience, constantly citing his relative inexperience in the sport compared to many of his contemporaries.

But as he continued to march into the Octagon and stack up victories, expectations about what Gane was capable of doing continued to escalate, and the fact that he was still in the formative days of his mixed martial arts career took a backseat to forecasting his potential greatness.

Ciryl Gane Sits Down With John Gooden Ahead Of UFC Paris
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Ciryl Gane Sits Down With John Gooden Ahead Of UFC Paris
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He started his career 10-0, with seven straight UFC victories, culminating in a third-round stoppage win over Derrick Lewis to claim the interim title. Since then, he’s gone 1-2, dropping championship bouts against Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones on either side of his third-round finish of Tai Tuivasa last year when the UFC touched down in Paris for the first time.

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As he resets and readies to face Spivac on Saturday, Gane is back to preaching patience, eager to show that he’s grown from the setbacks that have prompted some to give up their seats on the “Bon Gamin” bandwagon.

“That’s exactly my mindset, and it’s helped me a lot,” he said when asked if people need to remember he’s still developing as a mixed martial artist. “Even if the memory of my last fight is really painful, it’s given me a lot of experience and made me stronger, as a man, in life and in my career.

Ciryl Gane of France punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Accor Arena on September 03, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Ciryl Gane of France punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at The Accor Arena on September 03, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I just started my career a few years ago, and when you’re starting, there are a lot of opportunities with the media, TV, with everything around me to build my brand, so I took those opportunities. This camp, we turned down every interview during my camp — we did one or two that I wanted to do, and this is the biggest thing I changed. It’s really important for me.

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“I’m not focused on what the people are going to say about me now; this is my new mindset,” continued Gane. “I just want to do my thing like when I started my career, where it was ‘Hey, we’ve got a fight!’ and we’d go to the gym, stay in the gym, fight, and we’d do like that — go to the gym, fight, go to the gym, fight.

“Now I’m gonna do that again and I think it’s going to be better for me.”

Ciryl Gane Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Spivac
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Ciryl Gane Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Spivac
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Very few people have unimpeded ascents to the top of their respective divisions — seven of the 10 current UFC titleholders have suffered at least one loss in their weight class — and combined with the sudden rush of celebrity and learning on the job at the highest level in the sport, it’s easy to see both how Gane came up short, but also has a potential road back towards the top of the division, as well.

And the fact that the road back begins at home in Paris brings a big, toothy smile to the affable French heavyweight’s face.

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“This is like a celebration,” said Gane, beaming about getting to headline at home for a second consecutive year. “The first event in Paris was really crazy — everybody in the world talked about this show because it was wonderful, and I hope the second time is going to be the same.

“I’m going to enjoy it a little more,” he added, acknowledging that leading the French charge last year brought more responsibility and pressure, where things have lessened a little now that it’s not quite so new. “I’m going to jump into the cage with a little less stress.”

While there is less promotional stress, one would understand if Gane felt additional stress in terms of needing to perform given that he’s coming off a second championship loss and one that lasted just over two minutes.

But when asked about it, the happy headliner made it clear that he’s left the past behind him and is ready to start anew this weekend.

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“I’m comfortable and confident,” he said, chuckling and smiling as always. “I have to shine on Saturday and do what I can do.

“I know I’m a good fighter, so I have to shine on Saturday, and then the people will say, ‘Ah, he’s back!’”

Gane laughed as he pantomimed people being excited by his performance and proclaiming his triumphant return, clearly amused at how quickly opinions on a fighter shift in the public arena.

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“It’s going to be good for me, for real — for my mindset and everything,” he answered when asked about getting his hand raised this weekend. “It’s going to be good for me, but also for the people around me that have been very kind to me. They want to have “Bon Gamin” with a smile.

“People want to see me shining this Saturday, so I want to do that.”

As for how he delivers a shining performance this weekend against Spivac, the confident French standout is clear and direct about what he hopes to do, as always.

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“You know already my game plan,” he began, chuckling. “Everybody knows my game plan, and it’s worked a lot on a lot of people: I’m going to touch him and never get touched.

“I’m really good, I’m really fast, I’m really quick, and I can see everything when I’m aware. This is my job and I want to do that. I’m ready if the fight is going to go to the wrestling, the ground game — I can do some good stuff — but I hope I won’t need to do that because I’m moving well, managing the distance.”

Should everything go according to plan, those vacated seats on the “Bon Gamin” bandwagon will fill back up, and the next trip towards the top of the UFC heavyweight division will begin, setting out from Paris, just as it did this same time last year.

UFC Fight Night: Gane vs Spivac took place live from the Accor Arena in Paris, France on September 2, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass