An interim title pairing has left many wondering what is available for UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou
Just days after picking up his second main event UFC win, undefeated fighter Ciryl Gane will face Derrick Lewis for an interim UFC Heavyweight Championship on August 7th, per a report from Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
The fight is expected to headline UFC 265, which will take place in Houston, Texas, USA, without a specific venue confirmed at the moment.
The title fight sidelines two top title challengers, leaving current UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou out of the mix in the division. This move by the promotion has confused many, including the management team for Ngannou.
“We’re unsure of what the reasoning is behind this, but we hope to get clarity soon and figure out something with the UFC soon,” said Marquel Martin when asked for comment by ESPN. “At the end of the day, they’re in control of these decisions.”
UFC President Dana White had previously publicly commented that Ngannou facing Lewis would be the next matchup to make after the champ defeated Stipe Miocic to claim the belt earlier this year.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Jon Jones has also campaigned for a title shot, a move that Ngannou has encouraged. However, it has been publicly expressed by Jones and White that negotiation issues have forced that fight out of the picture.
Gane Gets Quick Turnaround Against Explosive Lewis
The title fight for Gane continues what has been an incredibly quick ascension up the ladder of MMA for the French heavyweight. The 31-year-old only has nine pro MMA fights, with six in the UFC and two in the main event of “Fight Night” cards.
In what was easily his biggest win yet as a pro, Gane fought to a unanimous decision against Alexander Volkov earlier this month. The victory was his second high-profile win this year for him, as he defeated Jairzinho Rozenstruick in February.
Lewis is seeing an interim title fight after a four-fight win streak. He has been on the upswing since 2019, with two of his wins being in the main event of a card.
Lewis scored an upset in his last fight, connecting with an uppercut against Curtis Blaydes to knock him out in the second round of a five-round bout. The bout set him up as the potential next contender for a title fight.
Lewis has challenged for the belt before, losing to Daniel Cormier in late 2018.
UFC 265 already had a title fight lined up prior to the heavyweight booking, as UFC Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes was set to face Julianna Pena. Here is how the card looks with the new bout in place.
Bout 10: Derrick Lewis (25-7) vs. Ciryl Gane (9-0) (Vacant Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship)
Bout 9: Amanda Nunes (21-4) vs. Julianna Pena (10-4) (UFC Bantamweight Championship)
Bout 8: Drako Rodriguez (7-2) vs. Vince Morales (9-5) (Bantamweight)
Bout 7: Johnny Munoz (10-1) vs. Jamey Simmons (7-3) (Bantamweight)
Bout 6: Jose Aldo (29-7) vs. Pedro Munhoz (19-5) (Bantamweight)
Bout 5: Victoria Leonardo (8-3) vs. Melissa Gatto (6-0-2) (Flyweight)
Bout 4: Song Yadong (16-5-1) vs. Casey Kenney (16-3-1) (Bantamweight)
Bout 3: Tecia Torres (12-5) vs. Angela Hill (13-9) (Strawweight)
Bout 2: Vicente Luque (20-7-1) vs. Michael Chiesa (17-4) (Welterweight)
Bout 1: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6) vs. Jessica Penne (13-5) (Strawweight)