We didn't know much about Ciryl Gane heading into his August matchup against Raphael Pessoa. What we did know was that Gane was 3-0, had a muay Thai background, was close to signing with Glory, is a teammate of Francis Ngannou, was the biggest favorite on the card and that he passed the "looks good getting off the bus" test. In less than five minutes, we learned, well, we didn't learn much because of how overmatched Gane's opponent was, but it was enough for fans to get excited about the 29-year-old heavyweight.
Gane faces the 27-year-old Don'tale Mayes on Saturday's UFC Fight Night 162 card.
The UFC must see something it likes about Mayes. He fought on three Dana White Contender Series cards over the past three years. He went 2-1 in those bouts and scored a contract in July with a first-round knockout win over Ricardo Prasel. Mayes is 7-2 overall and has won his past four fights. His three most recent victories have been via stoppage.
Mayes seems to have the cards stacked against him in this matchup. He is the biggest underdog on the card, while Gane is the most substantial favorite.
There's a chance that Mayes was not the UFC's first choice to face Gane. Leading up to his UFC debut, the French fighter told MMA Junkie that it was a struggle to find him an opponent.
"The matchmakers had to go to seven people to find someone to fight me on the roster," Gane said. "There wasn't anyone ready to give me that chance to fight me. I guess because I don't have a big name yet, they didn't see any interest to fight me. Anyway, there were seven people who turned back the contract from the UFC."
"At this point, the UFC had to hire someone to face me on that card in Uruguay. It's not that bad because I don't have that much experience. I think it's good that he doesn't have the UFC experience like I don't have so we will have time to grow together and take it step by step."
Gane is little more than a huge question mark at this point in his career. It's good that the UFC is taking a slow approach with him so far, but if he keeps adding stoppage wins to his record, he's going to be thrown into a fight against a ranked opponent sooner rather than later due to the lack of depth in the heavyweight division.
UFC Fight Night 162 takes place at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Saturday. The main card streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN.