Confusion surrounds interim title bout between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane
Top heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane will fight for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 265 this weekend.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 • 8:40 PM ET
Derrick Lewis - Wikimedia Commons
When thinking about the upcoming interim heavyweight title bout between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 on Saturday, one word continuously comes to mind — confusion.
There’s confusion why this bout is taking place. There’s confusion why there’s an interim title involved. There’s also confusion surrounding what will, or should, happen with the winner of the bout that will pit the two heavyweight stars.
After negotiations for a bout featuring heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones fell through earlier this year, the UFC planned to book a rematch between Ngannou and Lewis that would take place this summer. And although it was three rounds of less than entertaining combat, Lewis defeated Ngannou by unanimous decision in 2018 and an argument for a rematch could be made (although an argument could also be made for a trilogy bout between former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Ngannou).
However, Ngannou wouldn’t be ready to defend the title until September, which wasn’t soon enough for the promotion. Saturday’s UFC 265 card will take place in Houston, and the UFC wanted to keep H-town native Lewis in the main event.
Ngannou defeated Miocic in March via a devastating second-round knockout to become a champion in the UFC for the first time. Less than five months later, though, Lewis and Gane will challenge for the interim heavyweight title.
The No. 2 ranked Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) has won four straight bouts, most recently securing a second-round knockout victory over contender Curtis Blaydes in February. The man nicknamed “The Black Beast” has fought in the UFC since 2014, but the 36-year-old Lewis will face a rising star this weekend who has displayed elite technical skills in the Octagon.
Unlike Lewis, the No. 3 ranked Gane doesn’t have overwhelming experience in the UFC. His first fight in the promotion came in August 2019, but he has been extremely impressive en route to Saturday’s interim title fight. Gane (9-0) has won all six of his UFC bouts with notable victories over Tanner Boser, Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov. He’ll look to use his skills to offset Lewis’ power, and another victory for the French technician could set him up for a unifying bout with Ngannou.
Yet, there’s no guarantee that the winner of Saturday’s bout will face Ngannou in a unifying bout, especially considering possible injuries, contract negotiations and the seemingly never-ending pandemic. Jones is also lurking in title conversations and the No. 1 ranked Miocic, who many consider the greatest mixed martial arts heavyweight of all time, certainly deserves a trilogy bout with Ngannou.
Despite a cloud of confusion surrounding Saturday’s bout, the fight between Lewis and Gane could be an exciting encounter. Whoever leaves the fight victorious, more questions than answers may come about.
Start time/how to watch - The UFC 265 main card can be seen on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST this Saturday.
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