The Ultimate Fighting Championships next pay-per-view event will be headlined with two heavyweight contenders in Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis. Both men will compete for the UFC heavyweight interim title on August 7th, but a question is consistently being brought to attention – what about current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou?
Just three months ago, the UFC crowned its newly instated champion Francis Ngannou after knocking out Stipe Miocic. And now, before the Cameroonian has the opportunity to defend his title, the UFC is bypassing his short reign by creating an interim championship.
Ngannou went on record to say he was in ‘complete shock’ at the UFC’s decision, and his management shared the disbelief. With that said, UFC president Dana White expressed the entire camp was fully aware of what was going on.
The question remains, why has the UFC gone through with creating an interim title? We know the original contest was supposed to be Lewis versus Ngannou, and the Predator said he wouldn’t be ready until September – but it’s not as if an extra four weeks would have affected the UFC’s schedule.
A closer look into the circumstances surrounding Derrick Lewis and the August 7th date may explain why. The UFC 265 event is taking place in Houston, Texas – Lewis’ hometown.
So, instead of waiting for Ngannou, the company moves forward with handing Lewis his title shot in Houston.
We cannot disagree with Lewis fighting for a championship; he’s a worthy and highly saleable character for the UFC. He is also one of two men who’ve defeated Ngannou in the past, which could cause an exciting build-up if he were to beat Gane this summer.
Lewis defeated highly ranked Curtis Blaydes last time out; earning this position isn’t in question. But allowing him to become champion due to the availability of a three-month-long champion is nothing but disrespect to Francis Ngannou and his camp.
Gane vs. Lewis
The matchup taking place at UFC 265 is an intriguing one. One of the division’s heaviest hitters in Lewis is welcoming an undefeated technical striker, Ciryl Gane, into his home territory.
Gane (9-0) began his martial arts career competing in muay thai, his 13-0 record complements his undefeated martial arts record for a total of twenty-two fights where the Frenchman has kept an unblemished record. With 9 (T)KO’s during his muay thai career and 6 finishes in his MMA career, Gane is quite the finisher himself – only reaching the judge’s scorecard on 7 occasions. It should be noted, Gane has barely lost a round during his professional fighting career, let alone an entire fight. A highly technical striking skill set is being assisted with a constantly evolving Brazilian jiu-jitsu ground game. Sportsbook agrees that Gane is an accomplished martial artist despite his 9-fight MMA record, and according to FanDuel, the odds are at -335; just make sure to check their review.
Despite Gane’s impressive career on paper, he cannot match the experience and punching power that Derrick Lewis brings into the octagon.
A professional career spanning back 11 years, Lewis has fought 33 times and knocked out 20 opponents of his 25 successes. He owns most knockouts in UFC Heavyweight history (12) and is also boosting 7 performance/fight of the night bonuses.
Since his UFC debut back in 2013, Lewis quickly earned the respect of MMA fans and critics alike with his devastating knockout power. There haven’t been many men who’ve been able to absorb the sheer velocity of Lewis’ striking output, so it’s safe to say that Ciryl Gane will want to keep his distance.
So, why are the sportsbooks so confident, with such a juiced -335 available betting line on Gane? I think it’s based on Gane’s ability to strike at a distance and avoid slugging it out inside the pocket. With that said, Gane won’t avoid Lewis’ fist for 25 minutes, which makes the underdog in Lewis all the more intriguing.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather avoid betting against the destructive power of Lewis and maybe even think about touching the tempting odds he’s providing instead.