The Evolution of The Heavyweights



It wasn’t that long ago that the Heavyweight division was widely considered to have the least depth of talent across all the weight classes. All the talented large athletes were said to be playing football, basketball, or some sort of other professional sport. Except for the elite, back in the day, the heavyweights didn’t always make for must-see TV. The division relied on the fact that with big men and small gloves, more often than not, somebody was going to go down.

Back in the era when fighters like Randy Couture, Tim Slyvia, and Brock Lesnar were champions, with all due respect to the roster at that time, the level of talent at Heavyweight was nowhere near the level of athleticism and skill we got from the lighter weight classes.

It wasn’t until Cain Velasquez came onto the scene and sent Brock Lesnar crashing into the canvas to claim the title that the bar was raised for the heavyweights . Since that time, the talent level and the overall entertainment value of the division has been steadily increasing. All of these years after Velasquez took the title to go 9-0, Ciryl Gane headlined UFC Vegas 30 to also go 9-0 and be the perfect representation of how far the division has come.

With 3 wins by KO/TKO, 3 wins by submission, and 3 wins by decision, Gane’s record embodies the evolution of the Heavyweight division. Gone are the days of the Heavyweights being nothing more than giant men who are incredibly dangerous early, and slow and boring late. Gane is a well-rounded fighter and represents what’s in store for the future.

Demonstrating beautiful Muay Thai, Gane proved that just because you’re a big man, doesn’t mean you can’t rely on impeccable technique as opposed to sheer power. In the 5 round unanimous decision victory over fellow kickboxer Alexander Volkov, Gane outstruck the technical kickboxer. Bouncing on his feet and being very loose from the beginning, Gane showed awesome technique on route to the win.

He switched stances, changed levels threw set up low leg kicks to throw heat. Anytime he would launch an aggressive attack and get countered, he showed remarkable defense by always being very well covered up and moving his feet to stay out of trouble. The moment he was out of danger, he’d proceed to move forward to land damage. The hand speed Gane has is incredible for a man his size, he was very successful in putting together combinations and snapping Volkov’s head back with the jab in the process. He was constantly feinting, setting up and landing big body and leg kicks.

He faked the right hand to land the body kick, he would explode with long full extension punches, pushing Volkov back every time he landed. He teeped, he threw jumping knees and always attacked. Gane is in the very rare company of heavyweight fighters who starts slow, and picks up steam as the contest progresses. He had a very diverse array of striking that cashes in for him time and time again.

Gane is a shining example of how far the heavyweights have come. 10 years ago, an 8-0 record would land you a headlining a PPV for a UFC Heavyweight title shot. In 2021, now at 9-0, it’s not even certain that Gane is anywhere near a title fight.

But whether he is a fight or two away from a title fight or not, one thing is for sure.  Ciryl Gane embodies the advances the heavies have made over the years, and is foreshadowing the advancements to be made in the years to come.

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