UFC 270: Legendary boxing trainer says Francis Ngannou has to ‘improve some more’ to beat Ciryl Gane

ufc 270, francis ngannou, ciryl gane
Mar 27, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Francis Ngannou of Cameroon reacts after his victory over Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

As far as famed boxing trainer and television analyst Teddy Atlas is concerned, if Francis Ngannou is going to beat Ciryl Gane and defend his UFC heavyweight championship at UFC 270, he is going to need to improve a lot more.

The long-time ESPN analyst, and former trainer of heavyweight champion Michael Moorer, has a great deal of respect for the current UFC heavyweight king. Having worked with him a bit in the past, he knows the talents the Cameroonian behemoth has at his disposal. He says Ngannou, 35, made significant strides in the fights leading up to his win over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 and becoming the division titleholder.

Atlas even feels Ngannou (16-3) has made more strides technically in MMA than superstar heavyweight Deontay Wilder has in boxing. Telling the hosts on popular podcast Submission Radio that Ngannou has evolved past being just a tough and powerful fighter — like Wilder — and into something more.

Teddy Atlas sees more development in Francis Ngannou than Deontay Wilder

“Wilder’s just a strong guy. Wilder’s just a good puncher. And there’s no other way to say it. As much as I just gave those accolades, he deserves them, but the truth be said he doesn’t know how to fight. He never learned how to fight,” Atlas said. “And my old mentor, the late great Cuz D’Amoto used to say, ‘Teddy, when you get two tough guys, and one of them is smarter, more technical, more developed, guess what? He goes up. He becomes tougher automatically because he doesn’t only have to rely on that.'”

“Before he won the title, Ngannou was just a tough, strong, son of a gun. But he matured. His experience brought him down the road of learning. And he got better. When he beat [Miocic] it wasn’t because he was bigger or stronger. He beat him because he was better than he had been technically,” he added. “He used his jab, he controlled range, he was calmer. He actually ended the fight with something most people thought he was not capable of doing. He landed a counter left hook. He stepped back, Miocic reached in, then bang, he threw a counter. That’s development.”

Atlas feels Ngannou will need a lot more development to beat Ciryl Gane at UFC 270

Yet, despite “The Predator’s” growth in reaching the top of the weight class mountain, Atlas says the champion will need that “and more” to beat his upcoming opponent in January. The current interim-heavyweight titleholder, and skilled Muay Thai practitioner Ciryl Gane (10-0). A fighter he compares to current boxing heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, in having serious technical gifts for his a man of his size.

“[Ngannou’s] gonna have to have that, and more to beat this [Gane]. Because this fella has been developed. He’s had a head start on him as far as being that kind of intellectual fighter. Being more than just a tough guy. It’s going to be very interesting,” said Atlas. “Ngannou has improved, but he better improve some more, and he better not get himself into a fire fight where he’s just dependent on his power. Because if that happens, he’ll wind up in the same position as Wilder wound up against Fury.”

UFC 270 takes place on Jan. 22 in California’s Toyota Center. The event will air exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view for $US 69.99.

Do you agree with Atlas? Is Ngannou vs Gane similar to Wilder vs Fury, and the champion will need to make up the technique divide?

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