Francis Ngannou successfully defended his heavyweight title against Ciryl Gane tonight at UFC 270 in unexpected and somewhat anti-climatic fashion as he managed to outwrestle his rival in the later rounds to secure a unanimous decision victory.
The heavyweight main event title fight is underway in Las Vegas!
Gane with lateral movement on the outside. Ngannou, who is wearing knee braces, is looking to press forward and Gane immediately swoops in looking for a takedown, then just moves Ngannou over to the other side of the Octagon.
In the clinch, but not for long as Ngannou breaks free and gets back to striking range.
Inside leg kick from Gane. Ngannou loading up looking to land those heavy hands and Gane is a little skittish as he ducks and backs up. Ngannou goes into the clinch against the cage. Gane able to turn into him now though.
They start moving away from the cage in the clinch and interestingly Gane lands an upward elbow.
Back to striking range now. Solid body shot from Ngannou and Gane covers up. Ngannou throwing punches, but Gane in avoidance mode and backs away.
Spinning kick to the body for Gane. Gane steps into a nice knee to the midsection. Inside leg kick from Gane as Ngannou was starting to look for a kick himself.
Gane keeps his head out of range as Ngannou loads up on a punch. They go into the clinch and Ngannou drives Gane into the cage.
Ngannou trying for a takedown. Ngannou lands a knee high to the body, but then Gane immediately turns into him. Light knees to the leg from Gane. They back off the cage and Ngannou lands a strike before they break. They measure each other up from range and that’s where the round ends.
Gane just misses on a front kick to the body. lateral movement from Gane. Olbique kick to the knee from Ngannou. Side kick from Gane. A couple of outside leg kicks from Gane and one in return from Ngannou.
Another leg kick from Gane. Flurry of strikes from both men without anything landing cleanly.
Jab for Gane. Front kick to the body. Ngannou looking for a body kick too. Gane with a punch in close.
Grazing right hand from Ngannou. Ngannou not pressing forward with the same urgency as last round, but he does then step into a big overhand that misses. Ngannou into the clinch, but not for long.
Right hand flashing out from Ngannou. Gane with a nice body kick. He targets the leg and then attempts a big spinning wheel kick that just grazes the champ’s head.
Step-in jab from Gane as he gets the room he needs to operate from range. Ngannou with a leg kick. Outside leg kick from Gane. Spinning body kick from Gane.
Hard body kick from Ngannou. Inside leg kick lands lightly for Gane. Swing and a miss from Ngannou. Uppercut flashed out by Ngannou as Gane comes into range.
Body kick attempt from Gane. Light outside leg kick for him and that’s where the round ends. Ngannou definitely slowed down a lot in that round and isn’t pressing the action, which is enabling Gane to settle more into his point-based gameplan.
A couple of light low kicks from Gane. Jab from Gane and Ngannou fires back with a punch of his own. Missed hook from Ngannou.
Front kick upstairs attempted from Gane, but it misses and Ngannou immediately catches that kick and slams him to the mat.
Ngannou now in side control with plenty of time to work here. Gane looking to improve his position, but then gives up his back. He gets to his knees and Ngannou was thinking about the rear-naked choke there. Gane manages to work up to his feet though and presses Ngannou into the cage.
Gane looking for a takedown but it’s Ngannou attempts a judo throw, but they pop straight back up again and it’s the challenger who maintains the clinch position up against the cage.
Spinning elbow from Gane as they break apart. Ngannou swings and misses. Kick from Gane. Ngannou lands a punch.
Spinning kick to the body from Gane but Ngannou gets out of the way. Nice calf kick from Ngannou. Head kick from Gane seemed to graze the target.
Ngannou with a body punch and goes for a double-leg takedown and lands it nicely. Gane counters with a kimura attempt, but Ngannou breaks free. Ngannou in half-guard here and that’s a nice new wrinkle to his game to see some wrestling ability from the champ as the round ends.
Light leg kick from Gane. Jab for the challenger and then a leg kick again. Another leg kick. Kick from Ngannou now.
Gane working more leg kicks, landing several in a row before Ngannou wards him off with his own kick and then a jab.
Spinning body kick from Gane. leg kick again. Oblique kick from Ngannou. Head kick from Gane. Kick from Ngannou too and then clinches up against the cage. Ngannou lands another nice takedown as he drags Gane to the mat.
Gane on his knees and trying to stand as Ngannou clinches his back. Gane tries to disrupt Ngannou’s balance but then gets up to his feet. Ngannou still on him though and brings him back down.
Ngannou trying to get mount, but Gane gets him back to half-guard. Gane trying to sit up and backs up to the cage. Hard knee to the upper body from Ngannou.
Ngannou starts to land a couple of punches. Gane turns his back and continues to try to stand and Ngannou goes back to focusing on keeping him down until the round ends.
Gane with a jab. Now a step in elbow and then leg kick. Front kick to the body from Gane. He fires out the jab but misses. A couple of body punches do land. Now a nice punch upstairs.
leg kick for Ngannou. Gane goes for a takedown in the center of the Octagon and lands it. Gane in half-guard. Ngannou trying to force his way back up, but Gane trying to settle in full guard.
Gane drops back for a heel hook, but Ngannou gets on top. perhaps a bad decision from the challenger there.
Gane working for a heel hook again and this time it looks more of a threat. Ngannou defending though and then manages to escape and get on top.
Ngannou trying to get to full mount now. Who would have thought these two heavyweights would end up spending so much time on the mat?!
Ngannou in half-guard and smothering on top of Gane. Gane wrapping arm around Ngannou’s neck, but that’s easily cast aside.
Final 10 seconds and Gane can’t get out from under the champion and his title hopes may be slipping away as he remains on his back.
Certainly not the fight we expected to see then with very little in the way of major striking action, with Gane getting the better of that aspect with largely light kicks from range. The big surprise though was the wrestling exchanges, with Ngannou in particular being eager to pursue them later in the fight with some significant success, while the challenger got a good takedown early in the final round only to then give up position for a failed submission attempt.
So we head to the scorecards and it’s that wrestling advantage that wins Ngannou the fight by unanimous decision (48-47 x2, 49-46) and keeps the heavyweight title around his waist.
Afterwards Ngannou confirms that he tore his MCL in the weeks prior to the fight, which explains the reason for him wearing knee braces.