LAS VEGAS — When the UFC announced the heavyweight match between Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik would headline the show at Apex on Saturday, it was one to circle on the calendar.
It featured two big and powerful men, each of whom had knockout power, in a significant match of contenders within the division.
It seemed, on paper, a can’t-miss.
But when the bell rang on Saturday, it missed for most of the 25 minutes it lasted. Both men were cautious and there were lengthy periods of inactivity. Gane correctly earned the unanimous decision, as he was a little busier, but this was a fight in which the reputation of neither fighter was enhanced.
All three judges had it 50-45 for Gane, who entered the bout ranked eighth. Rozenstruik, who came into the bout fourth, lost for only the second time.
Gane made what little fight there was, moving forward and forcing Rozenstruik to the cage. Both men respected the other’s power, and that was the fight’s downfall. They didn’t let their hands go much and so little happened. If there was a crowd, boos would have filled the venue.
The most activity Rozenstruik showed during the bout was when he would tap his cup to indicate to referee Herb Dean that he was hit low or when he wiggled his fingers in front of his eyes to say he’d been poked.
Other than that, he threw a few wild shots that Gane easily avoided.
Gane, who came from the same gym in Paris that produced No. 1 contender Francis Ngannou, didn’t do much more. He took Rozenstruik down several times and was at least trying to create a fight. But he didn’t let his hands go nearly as much as he should have, either, and the result was a desultory bout that no one would want to see again.
Gane figures to move up in the rankings after the win, but the performance still should slow his momentum. He remains relatively inexperienced — this was just his eighth MMA fight — and it was only one night. But he didn’t look like a potential champion on this night.
Neither man did as they warily looked for openings and declined to accept much, if any risk.
That occasionally happens with heavyweights, but this fight had so much potential on paper that it seemed a can’t-miss. As it turned out, it was just about a can’t-watch.
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