Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane Odds, UFC 270 Pick & Prediction: How to Bet Saturday’s Heavyweight Title Fight
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou.
- UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, and UFC Interim champion, Ciryl Gane, will close the show for UFC 270 in the main event.
- Two title holders will walk into the Octagon, but only one will leave undisputed champ and Ngannou (+130) enters as a slight underdog ahead of the fight.
- Sean Zerillo previews where to find value in this championship bout.
Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane Odds
The UFC will unify the Heavyweight title on Saturday night, with a bout between current champion Francis Ngannou and interim champion Ciryl Gane — former teammates at the MMA Factory in Paris.
The UFC has seen several intriguing Heavyweight title bouts over the years, including two trilogy fights: Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez. Although Ngannou is nearing the end of his current UFC contract, if he does remain with the promotion, I would expect to see him and Gane complete their own trilogy in the coming years.
These are two of the most athletic Heavyweights in MMA history, whose stylistic matchup, and personal history present an intriguing clash.
Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s main event and reveal my play for Gane vs. Ngannou. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can check out my projections for the entire slate here.
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||5:38||15:06|
|Weight (pounds)||250 lbs.||245 lbs.|
|Date of birth||9/5/86||4/12/90|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||2.54||5.37|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.04||2.40|
|Take Down Avg||0.20||0.71|
If you have read any other breakdowns of this fight — or even perused MMA Twitter in recent weeks — you already have a solid idea of how this matchup should play out. It’s not a particularly difficult fight to break down, but it was far more challenging to formulate a betting opinion.
The takes on this fight are incredibly polarizing. Gane’s supporters believe he can pick “The Predator” apart for 25 minutes by using superior technique and defensive responsibility (+17% striking defense) to control the range.
The larger 30′ Octagon at the Honda Center — as compared to the 25′ cage in the APEX where Ngannou claimed the title — should serve to help “Bon Gamin.”
However, Ngannou’s supporters believe that he only needs one clean punch to close the show; it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Gane spends 25 minutes in the cage with that Titan without eating at least one clean shot. Ngannou averages one knockdown for every 20 strikes attempted in the UFC, which is an incredible rate.
Gane should control the minute-winning in this fight (+2.97 to +0.50 strike differential; +33% combined accuracy and defense), particularly in the middle and late rounds when Ngannou starts to fade.
However, the power and reach advantages lie in Ngannou’s corner. While Gane is excellent at moving away from his opponents, he does tend to back up straight and leave his head on the centerline, leaving him susceptible to a forward blitz and winging hooks:
While everyone acknowledges Ngannou’s power, few credit his speed, accuracy, or distance-closing explosiveness, which can immediately pressure opponents.
With that speed, Ngannou can force his opponents into big pocket exchanges — and not only is he mighty powerful, he’s also incredibly durable and willing to flip the chin coin by swinging wildly in the pocket.
Additionally, many have forgotten the massive improvements that Ngannou showed in his nearly flawless victory against Stipe Miocic.
He came out extremely patient, fired a hard early calf kick, showed a nice double jab to overhand combination and landed a flush high kick that he claims also knocked out Gane in a training session.
Moreover, Ngannou showed significant improvement regarding his wrestling, stuffing the takedown attempts from Stipe before managing to take his opponents’ back, where he landed some vicious ground and pound.
Since his last loss to Derrick Lewis in 2018, Ngannou has completed less than two rounds of fight time throughout five bouts. While we have seen improvements in that limited sample, it’s difficult to determine whether his stamina has improved.
Even in the second Miocic fight, despite showing much-improved patience, Ngannou was starting to breathe heavy near the end of Round 1, and into Round 2, before landing a vicious check left hook to claim the belt.
Cardio concerns notwithstanding, Ngannou doesn’t go away quickly, and I don’t expect Gane to find as easy of a finish in the later rounds as he did against a similarly gassing Lewis, who is much less athletic and much more vulnerable to body shots than the current champion:
Gane will need to control this fight with his teep kicks to keep pushing Ngannou back out of range, and he’s going to need to stay on his bike (especially in the early stages) to avoid big exchanges when Ngannou’s power should be most potent.
I doubt he can use his offensive grappling early to tie Ngannou up and tire him out — he had little success doing so against Alexander Volkov, and Ngannou is a much stronger opponent. Perhaps Gane can secure a takedown in the later rounds as Ngannou tires to stay out of trouble.
Aside from a couple of flash knockdowns, or unless he altogether lulls Gane’s pace to a crawl out of the fear of his power, it’s challenging to envision Ngannou winning a decision in this fight. He’s going to need multiple knockdowns where Gane survives in order secure rounds.
I would love to see Ngannou try to chop down Gane’s legs early to limit his lateral movement and create an opening for a high kick.
Mostly, however, I feel that the noticeable improvements against Stipe – who is an all-time great Heavyweight and a far more technical man than Ngannou – are being overlooked.
The arguments that one can make in favor of Gane are true of nearly all of Ngannou’s opponents. And while Gane might be the best opponent he has faced, or will ever meet, Francis only needs one moment to dictate the outcome.
Ngannou vs. Gane Pick
I had initially expected to back Gane since I generally side with minute-winners, but the line movement is dictating my hand after opening around a pick ’em.
I projected Ngannou as a 48% underdog (+108 implied odds) in this title unification bout, and I’m happy to bet his moneyline down to +117 (46% implied) in the most high-variance division in MMA.
I projected this bout to end inside the distance 72% of the time (-255 implied), and I don’t see value regarding the total. However, I do slightly value Ngannou’s prop to win by knockout (KO/TKO), listed at +165 at DraftKings (projected +145).
While that might be the best way to play Ngannou, I’m going to stick to a play on his moneyline: His power tends to scare opponents into a low-volume affair, and I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see Ngannou win the most boring possible version of this fight on power optics.
Most importantly, if Ngannou does win, you’ll never find a plus sign next to his name — or knockout prop — ever again, and Gane has received much more public support than I had ever anticipated.
The Pick: Francis Ngannou ML (+130)