PARIS (AFP) — Ciryl Gane described Saturday's UFC heavyweight title fight against Jon 'Bones' Jones in Las Vegas as "the biggest fight" of his career and insisted he would "give a good fight" against arguably the biggest name in the MMA world.
The fight for the vacant heavyweight title brings together two men from very different sides of the cage.
Jones, who is no stranger to controversy outside the ring having been twice banned for his involvement in a hit-and-run accident and a doping violation, is considered by many to be the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, having made his mark at light heavyweight level.
Gane, a genuine heavyweight with the dance steps of a middleweight, insists he comes from a quieter end of the street.
"We're completely different in terms of character," the Frenchman told AFP.
"He's a bit of a controversial person and I'm a pretty straightforward person. He's more of a bad boy.
"But we're going to fight, it's sport. It's the sport aspect that I put ahead of the other more personal things that I don't care about."
Gane also distances himself from the American in terms of their fightgame and experience.
"When he was already a multiple-time champion, I hadn't even started combat sports yet," says Gane.
"When I started Thai boxing at 25, he had already been a champion for three years, I didn't even know MMA. I was just starting Thai boxing and then I switched to MMA in 2018.
"Our stories are really very different. He started very young, I started very late."
Gane, 32, missed his first title chance last year when he was beaten by Francis Ngannou.
But he bounced back strongly with a third-round stoppage of Tai Tuivasa at home in Paris last autumn, and has now been given a second bite on the golden apple -- the undisputed heavyweight title.
"This is without a doubt the biggest fight of my career," says Gane.
- 'No weaknesses' -
The 35-year-old Jones, however, is a different kind of fighter, viewed as pound for pound the best fighter in the world for many years.
On the downside, the American has not stepped into the ring for three years and is making the step-up in weight but Gane does not see that as something that will hold him back in Vegas.
"He (Jones) doesn't really have a weakness," says Gane.
"He's someone who is versatile and, more important, has very good wrestling skills, good cage management, good overall opponent management.
"So he is someone who has a very good 'fight IQ'.
"But I also have a very good 'fight IQ'. My strong points will be my footwork, in the sense that I move a lot, I move more than him.
"This is his first experience in the heavyweight division, so maybe that can be to my advantage as well."
It will be a battle of different styles, to be sure, but one which will see the coronation of a new heavyweight champion of the world.
"In the cage, we don't go in with weapons, we go in with our fists and our feet and that's what's going to happen," says Gane.
"We're going to give a good fight."