The stat line in MMA fights can be deceiving. The number of significant strikes landed can mislead, especially in a heavyweight contests where one strike can be the difference between winning and losing. However, the number of significant strikes landed can sometimes give one an idea which fighter was in control of the contest. For example, the numbers for UFC 265’s main event bout between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane clearly show which man dominated the fight.
Gane won the bout by TKO at the 4:11 mark of the third round. When the bout ended, the newly crowned interim UFC heavyweight champion had landed 98 of 122 significant strikes for a significant striking percentage of 80 percent. Lewis landed a mere 16 significant strikes on 37 attempts. His landing percentage was 43 percent.
Gane is one of the smartest fighters in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The French competitor is not your typical heavyweight. Gane controls distance and pace and frustrates his opponents — and many fans as well — with his style. Gane is uninterested in engaging in a slugfest. He takes very little damage and rarely puts himself in danger. It’s stunning to think he is only 10 fights into his professional MMA career and at 31, he’s got a lot of years ahead of him.
Gane made beating Lewis and capturing the interim title look effortless. His next task will be facing current UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou in a title unification bout
Read on for the winners and losers from UFC 265.
Ciryl Gane: Ciryl Gane is an amazing heavyweight fighter. With just 10 professional MMA bouts to his name, he shouldn’t be as good as he is. But the interim title he took home on Saturday after dismantling Derrick Lewis, and his perfect 10-0 record, are solid indications of just how good he is.
Gane makes things look too easy inside the cage. With his ability to switch stances with ease and control pace, location and range seemingly without effort, the 31-year-old looks the part of a fighter who could rule the heavyweight division for years to come. Where we have come to expect heavyweight MMA fighters to be one dimensional competitors throwing bungalows and scoring knockout win after knockout win, Gane has the skills to control everything about a fight without putting himself in danger.
Former UFC fighter Gerald Harris tweeted after Gane’s win, “Gane fights like a Create-A-Player with all 100 attributes,” and that’s an accurate description.
Gane fights like a Create-A-Player with all 100 attributes. #UFC265— Gerald Harris (@GHurricane) August 8, 2021
We don’t know when Gane will face Francis Ngannou in a title unification bout, but as soon as that date gets announced, it needs to be circled on the calendar.
Jose Aldo: Thirteen months ago, Jose Aldo was on an 0-3 run and coming off a brutal TKO loss to Petr Yan. At that time, it appeared as if Aldo was on the decline. I’m not sure what happened, but Aldo is now on a two-fight winning streak and looking like he could make another run at UFC gold. The soon to be 35-year-old looked phenomenal in scoring a decision win over Pedro Munhoz on Saturday night. He was fast, accurate and set a personal record in significant strikes landed in a single fight with 114. It’s amazing to think that Aldo, who often looked drawn out at 145 pounds, has reinvented himself as a bantamweight this late in his storied career.
Vicente Luque: The days of the UFC matchmakers overlooking Vicente Luque should officially end with his win over Michael Chiesa on Saturday. Luque ended Chiesa’s four-fight winning streak at welterweight and made it look easy. Chiesa threatened Luque with a choke early in the bout, but Luque did not panic or get flustered, he simply worked out of the technique and secured a submission of his own. Luque has been quietly climbing the rankings for years. His only losses since late 2015 are to Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson and he has now won four in a row via stoppage. The days of Luque flying under the radar should be over. He is a legit title threat at welterweight.
Tecia Torres: Tecia Torres went 0-4 during 2018-19. With a win over Angela Hill at UFC 265, it appears as if Torres has righted the ship. She is now on a three fight winning streak and that should earn her a top-10 opponent in her next outing. Torres was faster and produced more volume in this strawweight scrap. At 31, it appears Torres has put that rough patch behind her and that her confidence is soaring.
Song Yadong: Song Yadong won a split decision over Casey Kenney. Perhaps he should have won the fight via a unanimous decision. Yadong did a good job of putting Kenney in uncomfortable situations in the first two rounds by backing up and messing with Kenny’s timing and range. He then changed things up in the third and moved forward, which was a smart tactical move. Yadong also did a marvellous job of mixing up his targets and techniques. This was a very good win for the Team Alpha Male fighter.
Bobby Green vs. Rafael Fiziev: On paper, this looked like a perfect fight to serve as the lead in for the pay-per-view portion of UFC 265. It lived up to that and more. Fiziev was around a 3-1 favorite over Green and he walked away with the win, but Green showed his younger and more talented opponent he still has some work to do before he moves up to face the top of the lightweight division. The 28-year-old Fiziev had an excellent first ten minutes, but Green never backed down and actually outworked Fiziev in the final five minutes of the bout. One thing Fiziev is going to need to work on moving forward is pacing. His movement and activity slowed as the fight wore on, and that allowed Green to take the third round. If Fiziev is going to contend, he’ll need to sort that out and sort it out quickly. This was an excellent fight.
Alonzo Menifield: Alonzo Menifield’s plan was to take away Ed Herman’s lead leg and then score a knockout win over his veteran opponent. Menifield accomplished half of his goal. He blasted Herman’s leg, but no matter what he did after that, he could not finish Herman. The fight was an excellent learning experience for Menifield as it was his first career decision win. As Menifield climbs the ranks of the light heavyweight division, he’s going to find out that he needs to pace himself for a 15-minute scrap.
Jessica Penne: Jessica Penne was on a three-fight losing skid when USADA handed her a four-year ban — later reduced to 20 months — for doping violations. Penne’s first fight back from that suspension came in April when she defeated Lupita Godinez via split decision. On Saturday, Penne notched her first stoppage win since 2013 when she submitted Karolina Kowalkiewicz via armbar. Penne fought aggressively from the opening bell and looked good in securing the win. At 38, it looks like Penne wants to make another run at UFC gold before she calls it a career.
Manel Kape: Manel Kape was under a lot of pressure heading into UFC 265. The former Rizin bantamweight champion began his UFC career on an 0-2 run. On Friday, the heat increased when Kape weighed in at 129 pounds for his flyweight scrap opposite Ode Osbourne. Kape took a lot of that pressure off himself when he scored a nasty flying knee knockout in the first round. Kape showcases his skills and technique in the knockout win. He then spotlighted his confidence in an expletive laden post-fight interview with UFC commentator Daniel Cormier. This win could be a turning point for Kape in the UFC.
Miles Johns: Miles Johns did a great job in hurting his opponent, Anderson dos Santos early in their matchup via leg kicks. If the idea was to slow Dos Santos and take away his power, Johns accomplished his goal. However, he seemed to struggle with his opponent fighting in a southpaw stance, so that’s something he’ll have to work on in future fight camps. However, when he had an opportunity to duck under a jab and land a body-to-head combo in the third, Johns did so with incredible power and precision. That devastating combination ended the fight. A very impressive night for Miles Johns.
Melissa Gatto: Melissa Gatto looked sharp in her UFC debut. She used a five-inch reach advantage to force her opponent, Victoria Leonardo to work off her back foot for most of their matchup. That reach allowed Gatto to do well with her jab. The bout was Gatto’s first since 2018.
Johnny Munoz Jr: Johnny Munoz Jr did nice work on the ground against Jamey Simmons in the opening fight of the night. He was especially good at taking advantage of the opportunity Simmons provided him by giving up his back. With that, Munoz sunk in a rear-naked choke and submitted Simmons in the second stanza.
TDLR officials: When Victoria Leonardo sat down on the stool at the end of the second round of her fight opposite Melissa Gato, she said that her arm wasn’t working. I don’t know how things shook out with this situation, but if the inspector heard that and reported it to the cageside doctor, that inspector did her job. Whatever the reason, the doctor came into the octagon and checked Leonardo’s arm. He ruled the arm was broken and waved off the fight. I know Leonardo was unhappy about that development as were some fans, but the reality is the doctor made the correct call.
Derrick Lewis: Derrick Lewis had his work cut out for him against Ciryl Gane. A fighter who counts on recklessness and exploiting openings, Lewis found nothing of the sort against Gane and it cost him an interim title. Lewis could not find the time or space to land a fight ending blow against Gane and with that his chances of winning the fight decreased with every second. Lewis will be a viable heavyweight because of his power and knockout ability, but his chances of getting another shot at UFC gold are slim.
Pedro Munhoz: Pedro Munhoz fell to 1-3 in his past four fights, but when one considers who those losses came to, it’s difficult to see Munhoz as a top-notch bantamweight. Those losses, which all came via decision, were to Aljamain Sterling, Frankie Edgar and on Saturday, Jose Aldo.
Michael Chiesa: Michael Chiesa moved from lightweight to welterweight in 2018. He went 4-0 at 170 pounds and entered UFC 265 as the No. 5 ranked fighter in the UFC welterweight rankings. Had he defeated Vicente Luque, Chiesa would have likely been close to getting his first UFC title shot. Instead, Chiesa will have to reset after Vicente Luque overwhelmed him and scored a submission win. At 33, Chiesa has time to work back into contention, but one has to wonder how this loss will affect his mindset considering he’s been grinding it out with the UFC since 2012.
Angela Hill: Angela Hill had an opportunity to break into the strawweight top 10 on Saturday when she met Tecia Torres at UFC 265. Hill fell short. Torres’ work rate was higher than Hill’s throughout the bout and that was what cost her the fight. The loss dropped Hill to 1-3 in her past four. All three of those losses have come via decision.
Casey Kenney: Casey Kenney didn’t perform poorly against Song Yadong, but he just could not seem to find his groove. With Yadong backing up for most of the first round, Kenney seemed uncomfortable in his striking, and that allowed him to get countered by Yadong. This was a good matchup, but Casey did not have the same skills as his opponent. He always seemed to be one step behind Yadong throughout the fight.
Ed Herman: Ed Herman lost his fight to Alonzo Menifield, but he showed Menifield that some fighters won’t go away no matter how badly you hurt them. The loss to Menifield ended Herman’s three-fight winning streak.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz: Karolina Kowalkiewicz was 10-0 when she faced Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC strawweight title in 2016. Jedrzejczyk won that fight by decision. That five-round contest was a turning point in Kowalkiewicz’s career. On Saturday, the former title challenger lost to Jessica Penne, which put her losing skid to five in a row. Kowalkiewicz’s career record now stands at 12-7 and it would be a surprise to see her fighting for the UFC after her first-round submission loss to Penne.
Anderson dos Santos: Anderson dos Santos was in deep trouble after five minutes of leg kicks from Miles Johns. Forced to switch stances and unable to put much behind his strikes, Dos Santos got through the second round on toughness and attitude, but he couldn’t take the body - head combo Johns landed in the third. A gutsy performance from dos Santos.
Jamey Simmons: In a live and learn moment, Jamey Simmons found out that giving up your back to a skilled grappler is a mistake. Simmons surrendered that position to Johnny Munoz Jr in the first fight on the UFC 265 card. He was then forced to tap to a rear-naked choke.
Dana White and UFC production: The UFC has an incredibly promotable fighter in UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Ngannou looks the part of “the baddest man on the planet” and his knockout wins are the things of nightmares. Yet, the UFC began Saturday’s UFC 265 pay-per-view event by doing as much as it could to discredit Ngannou and make him look like an ingrate.
The video lead in to the event, featured a video clip with UFC president Dana White saying, “If you don’t wanna fight, no problem. You can wait and fly around the world on vacation, whatever you’re doing, knock yourself out. Whenever you’re ready we’re here.”
The clip was unnecessary and mean-spirited and missed the part where Ngannou was willing to fight in September, but that one month delay was unacceptable to White and the UFC and so the promotion did what it does best, throw one of its fighters under the bus.
UFC 265 opening: "If you [Francis Ngannou] don't wanna fight, no problem. You can wait and fly around the world on vacation, whatever you're doing, knock yourself out. Whenever you're ready we're here." pic.twitter.com/XjSAwcbAdP— ❌❌❌ (@FTBVids_YT) August 7, 2021
Daniel Cormier: In discussing fight preparation and training, the UFC commentator mocked fighters who have removed hard sparring from the activities during training camp, saying those fighters prep by playing “patty-cake.” It was a tone deaf statement considering what we know about the effects of brain trauma. It was even dumber considering the results a fighter like Max Holloway, who no longer spars hard, have had using safer fight approach.
Chael Sonnen: I know Chael Sonnen likes to play fast and loose with the truth and reality, but when he’s in the role of ESPN talking head he should at least try to be in the same area code as the truth. He wasn’t near the truth when he said that Derrick Lewis had never been knocked down and had never been finished. We can fact check these things, neither of those statements was true.
UFC pay structure: Dana White recently attempted to defend the UFC’s win/show pay structure. On Saturday night, Bobby Green and Rafael Fiziev showed White and anyone who heard White’s weak defense of the pay structure that there is no way a losing fighter should get half a paycheck.
Jon Jones: With Ciryl Gane scoring a TKO win over Derrick Lewis, the odds of former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones waltzing into the heavyweight division and getting a title shot in his first bout in the weight class became even worse. It’s going to be very interesting to see what Jones does, but the odds are good that he’s going to have to take a non-title fight if he wants to compete at heavyweight in 2021-22.