Whilst it wasn’t the explosive UFC heavyweight bout that many, including myself, had expected, Ciryl Gane was able to dominate his opponent, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, for the entire 5 rounds, scoring 50-45 on all 3 of the judge’s scorecards.
Tactical masterclass by Gane
After tonight’s performance at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas, it’s hard to believe that Ciryl Gane made his pro MMA debut just 3 years ago in August 2018. Ciryl ‘Bon Gamin’ Gane was able to keep Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik at a distance, throwing stiff jabs and heavy leg kicks that made an already tentative Rozenstruik even more reserved as the fight progressed.
It may not have been the most exciting fight to watch for the casual fan, but for true UFC fans, you have to admire how Gane was able to keep a knockout artist such as Rozenstruik quiet throughout the fight. Gane had a game-plan and stuck to it, never getting carried away with looking for the knockout – proved by his lack of follow-up strikes on Rozenstruik after he would land a jab or leg kick.
In addition, Gane’s quick footwork – especially impressive for a heavyweight – allowed him to get in and out of the pocket against Rozenstruik with ease, not allowing the Surinamese fighter any time to throw any of his well-known counter punches that he is so good at throwing. Anytime Rozenstruik hinted at finding rhythm with his punches, Gane would quickly take him into the clinch or attempt a takedown, exemplifying his complete control of the fight.
Disappointing performance by Rozenstruik
Whilst Gane’s game-plan worked very efficiently, it’s clear to see that Rozenstruik’s did not. Bigi Boy, who had just 1 loss before this fight, seemed flat on his feet the whole time. Instead of taking the fight to Gane, Rozenstruik seemed content with waiting for that one opportunity to land a big counter-punch – which never came due to Gane’s light footwork.
Even Rozenstruik’s corner was getting frustrated, as you could hear one of his cornermen slam his hands on the canvas at some point during the fight. Whilst he was clearly aware of the Frenchman’s power – evident in his lack of pressure – even in the later rounds, Rozenstruik wasn’t trying to find that knockout that he needed since he was behind on the judge’s scorecards.
Commentator and former UFC champion, Michael Bisping, was saying during the fight how he wanted Rozenstruik to go forward. This was because every time Rozenstruik would go forward, Gane would back up quickly. Had Rozenstruik kept moving forward and forced Gane up against the fence, he may have been able to land some significant strikes or even that one knockout blow that we have seen him make in the past.
What’s next for both fighters?
After this dominating win against one of the UFC’s top heavyweights, Ciryl Gane has made his name fully known in the division. Although he never seemed in any real danger, I think that goes to show how clever and skilled of a fighter Gane is. In his biggest fight yet, Gane could have got into the octagon and looked for that knockout that would have made him go viral and possibly earn a fight bonus.
Instead, he realised the knockout power that Rozenstruik possesses and dictated exactly how he wanted the fight to pan out, never chasing the knockout and doing what he had to do in order to get the win. In his post-fight interview with Paul Felder, Gane admitted that whilst he was happy with the win, he wasn’t fully happy as he couldn’t put on a show for the fans – even saying how he expected more pressure from Rozenstruik.
Therefore, I think the clear fight to make for Gane is Derrick Lewis. If either fighter won, it would really catapult their chances for fighting for the title. Furthermore, I would like to see Gane against a skilled and deadly striker, such as Lewis, who is also going to bring the fight to Gane rather than letting Gane control the fight.
For Rozenstruik, this now marks his second loss in three fights – his other loss coming against Francis Ngannou at UFC 249. We didn’t really see Rozenstruik get the chance to show off his power like we have seen in his previous fights, but I think that’s just down to a poor game-plan.
Had Rozenstruik brought the fight to Gane, it would have been interesting to see if Gane could have handled a boxing match against such a heavy-hitter. Nonetheless, this fight shows that Rozenstruik needs to become lighter on his feet and be more aggressive in order to prevent this from happening again. In addition, he can’t just rely on counters, as Gane showed what keeping the distance can do for that tactic.
For his next fight, Rozenstruik ideally needs to fight a striker, as I feel a fight against a grappler, such as Curtis Blaydes, could result in a loss and thus knock his confidence even further. I believe a fight with Alexander Volkov would not only be entertaining to watch, but it would give Rozenstruik the opportunity to re-establish himself as a serious threat in the heavyweight division.
What did UFC fighters have to say about the fight?
These boys better get used to pushing the pace, all this standing around ain’t gonna fly when daddy comes home. #ufcvegas20
— BONY (@JonnyBones) February 28, 2021
It’s not up to the fighter that’s winning to show urgency! If you’re winning, keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t understand that narrative. Winning guarantees you twice the amount of money and automatically furthers your career. Why risk that? Great win by Gane #UFCVegas20
— Tanner Boser (@BulldozerBoser) February 28, 2021
so cyril gane vs black beast? @ufc … yep
— Jesse Ronson (@Ronsoff) February 28, 2021
Gane’s speed is going to give a lot of heavy weights trouble! #UFCVegas20
— Alan Jouban (@AlanJouban) February 28, 2021