It seems likely that the UFC were targeting a heavyweight title fight between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis to sit atop their Houston PPV card later this summer. But if that was the hope, then those plans appear to have hit a bump in the road.
Instead, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto announced via Twitter that the promotion is now putting together an interim title bout between Cyril Gane and Derrick Lewis to headline UFC 265.
Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) will face Ciryl Gane (@ciryl_gane) in an interim heavyweight title fight in the main event of UFC 265 on Aug. 7 in Houston, per Dana White (@danawhite). pic.twitter.com/wy3frMtyjJ— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 28, 2021
Gane is fresh off a dominant five round decision over Alexander Volkov this past Saturday, June 26th in the main event of UFC Vegas 30. ‘Bon Gamin’ has rocketed up the heavyweight division on the back of a nine-fight unbeaten streak including victories over former champion Junior Dos Santos and rising challenger Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
For Lewis, UFC 265 will represent the ‘Black Beast’’s second chance at UFC gold. The 4oz Fight Club talent took on Daniel Cormier for the belt back in 2018, fresh off his own knockout victory over Volkov at UFC 229. Cormier submitted Lewis in the second round, but despite another setback loss to JDS the Houston-based fighter won four-straight bouts to once again cement his claim as one of the best heavyweights in the world.
The booking still seems a bit strange, with Ngannou having only just won his title back in March. But after Ngannou told TMZ earlier this month that he’s still looking for the fight with Jones, it appears the UFC may have decided to push forward without him—and possibly add a little extra pressure for future negotiations.
“Give me Jon Jones!” Ngannou told TMZ Sports on June 11th (transcript via MMANytt), “That’s the fight I want. I do not care what has been said and already planned. I love that match and it’s Jones I’m set to face.”
UFC 265 will take place on August 7th. Alongside the heavyweight main event, a women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena has also been scheduled for the card. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as fight day approaches.