‘See you soon, boy’: UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou fires warning to Ciryl Gane as Frenchman wins interim crown

UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou has sent a warning to former training partner Ciryl Gane as the undefeated Frenchman earned a devastating stoppage of Derrick Lewis to win the UFC interim title.

Gane, who spent time on the mats in the MMA Factory in Paris with Ngannou earlier in their careers, set up a date with the power-punching Cameroonian as he used his varied arsenal of stand-up strikes to flummox Lewis in his home state of Texas, finally finishing 'The Black Beast' with a flurry of strikes in the third round.

The French fighter, who moved to a perfect 10-0 with the win, displayed a measured gameplan, launching artillery-like strikes from distance while staying on the outside to avoid Lewis' weapons grade bombs which were occasionally offered in riposte.

Lewis spent much of the fight with his back to cage in a bid to coax Gane to step into the pocket where his much-vaunted power could have been a difference-maker. Gane didn't bite, instead ensuring that he dictated the pace of the contest.

The Black Beast, wearing damage on his eye by the second round, appeared frustrated, finding himself unable to launch anything of note of his own as Gane diligently stuck to his strategy.

The finish, when it came, appeared somewhat inevitable as Gane buckled Lewis with a leg kick and landed an uppercut which signaled the end of the fight was near – with Gane quickly delivering on this promise through an ensuing barrage of blows that prompted referee Dan Miragliotta to call off proceedings.

"I’m happy but I’m feeling a bit bad for my man in front of his fans," said Gane afterwards about hometown fighter Lewis. 

"I’m happy, I’m proud. Everybody knows what is my gameplan. I like to move. No secret – it was the gameplan, of course.

"This is for [coach Fernand Lopez]. This is for the whole team. This is not just for me. This is for my coach. This is for the fans, for the country."

Gane, who becomes the first French fighter to hold an iteration of UFC gold, will next fight Ngannou – and 'The Predator' was quick to fire a warning to his former training partner.

"Impressive performance from Gane," he wrote. "He's now a legit contender. See you soon, boy. When you know, you know."

Several others were also quick to note Gane's impressive showing in the cage.

"Flawless performance," wrote UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, while middleweight Derek Brunson indicated that he was keenly awaiting fireworks when Gane and Ngannou set foot in the cage with one another.

"Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane is going to be something else," he said. "[UFC president] Dana [White] – what’s your cashapp? Take my money right now."

"He’s a real problem," added former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier. "I’m super excited about the unification fight.

"If I am team Francis Ngannou, I’m gameplan meeting right now. We haven’t seen a heavyweight like this with these abilities."

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