Over in mixed martial arts, there’s a much-hyped, potentially legendary fight on the horizon in the UFC. Jon ‘Bones’ Jones and Ciryl Gane will compete for the vacant UFC heavyweight belt, with the favourite tipped to secure his legacy as one of the greatest to ever enter the Octagon.
However, it’s well-known that there’s more money to be made in an exhibition boxing match than in a UFC bout. Francis Ngannou, who left the UFC as the outright heavyweight champion, has been sizing up his options for years and is reportedly in deep, very real talks with Deontay Wilder for a boxing match.
Still, if an MMA heavyweight were to cross over, and that was to be appealing to a boxer, they’d likely want the additional marketing and hype-train from the UFC. So, perhaps the Jones vs Gane winner would be the better target.
Jones expected to triumph over Gane
Whether it’s because of his legacy, fans piling into the market, or his body transformation being that impressive, the outright Jones vs Gane betting market has swung way out in favour of Bones. He’s at 4/7 now, with Gane the underdog at a price of 5/4. Even with his extra heft – Jones steadily put on 50 lbs for the fight – Jones on points is the preferred method of victory at 9/5.
Given his showing in the sport to date, it’s tough to argue with Jones’ assessment as the clear favourite in this fight. Still, this is his first fight at heavyweight after being a light heavyweight throughout his career. In April 2022, he was reportedly weighing in at 255 lbs, having last fought at 204 lbs in February 2020.
Still, it’s important not to overlook Frenchman Ciryl Gane. ‘Bon Gamin’ has enjoyed an exciting run in the UFC, only losing to Ngannou by decision after giving the hulking Cameroonian some tough moments. Around that, he recorded a win against respected heavyweight Alexander Volkov and knocked out Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis.
Where Gane looks to potentially have an edge is if Jones has lost some of his foot speed and strike speed with the weight gain, while Bon Gamin is well known for his excellent footwork and opportunistic strikes. With this in mind, backers of the underdog will look to Gane to win by KO or TKO at 5/1 rather than him to win by submission at 13/1.
Would either stand a chance against a top heavyweight boxer?
Simply put: almost certainly not. We’ve seen MMA fighters step into the boxing ring enough to understand that the two sports are very, very different and that the best mixed martial artists utilise a whole range of tools to win. Boiling it all down to the pure sport of boxing is incredibly difficult, as is adjusting punching style and footwork.
Of the two, with Jones’ style at heavyweight hidden until UFC 285 on 4 March, Gane does look to be far better suited to a pivot into boxing. His footwork in the Octagon shows that he has the right mindset, his punches are clinical, and he doesn’t rely as much on grappling and his ground game as Jones.
According to the UFC stats for the fight, Gane out-lands Jones per minute at 5.11 to 4.3, lands two per cent more significant strikes at 59 per cent and absorbs slightly more significant strikes per minute at 2.25. However, as an MMA fighter, Gane not only throws powerful punches, but he is also well known for his knee, elbow, and kicking proficiency.
This only further enforces that neither fighter should step into the boxing ring. Both sports create incredible athletes, but to reach the belt-contention status, decades of disciplined work have to go in to master the craft. An MMA fighter coming to boxing – even in the unpredictable heavyweight arena – puts the home athlete at a colossal advantage.
So, while neither Jones nor Gane would fare well against the likes of Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, or Anthony Joshua, the slight tip of the hat would go to Gane when comparing what’s been shown in the UFC to date.