If this week’s announcement that Ciryl Gane would fight for the Derrick Lewis for the UFC interim heavyweight title came off as a total shock, it wasn’t a surprise to Gane.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Gane revealed that prior to last weekend’s UFC Vegas 30 main event vs. Alexander Volkov, the UFC had already contacted his coach about taking on Lewis for the interim belt, provided he got past Volkov (which he obviously did).
“We knew already because just before the fight (with Volkov), UFC sent a message to Fernand Lopez (Gane’s trainer), a message like, ‘Yes, this is the semifinal, so do your job, and we’ll see after that,’” Gane said.
“I think it was an interim title shot, yes. But I’m not sure because they didn’t text with me. It was Lopez, and Lopez told me, ‘Man, do your job, and after the fight you’re going to be happy.’”
It’s unknown whether or not Volkov got the same offer, considering he did memorably face Lewis back in 2018 and was knocked out in the dying seconds of a fight he was otherwise dominating. I suppose it’s all moot on that front.
It was expected that reigning UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou would rematch Derrick Lewis, but the UFC went the interim title route when Ngannou’s timetable didn’t match up with theirs. Ngannou reportedly accepted a September date to fight Lewis, but the UFC wanted that August 7th date in Lewis’ hometown of Houston. Francis hasn’t fought since he knocked out Stipe Miocic way back in late March, which is nearly four whole months and obviously an excruciatingly long absence.
Gane vs. Lewis headlines UFC 265, with women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes defending her title vs. Julianna Pena in the co-main event. We assume the Gane-Lewis winner will get Ngannou later in the year. Maybe.