The UFC awarded an interim UFC heavyweight title to Ciryl Gane after he beat Derrick Lewis by TKO last night at UFC 265. The win puts the 10-0 Frenchman on a collision course with his former teammate Francis Ngannou.
Ngannou, who won the UFC heavyweight title with a destructive win over Stipe Miocic in March, gave a quick and positive reaction to Gane last night.
Impressive performance from Gane !— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) August 8, 2021
He's now a legit contender.
See you soon boy. When you know you know. #ufc265
“Impressive performance,” wrote ‘The Predator’ on Twitter. “He’s now a legit contender. See you soon boy. When you know you know.”
Since winning the UFC title Ngannou has been on the sidelines basking in championship glory, while also campaigning for a blockbuster fight with former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Both he and Jones have been highly public in expressing that they deserve a big payday for putting on what would be the biggest fight the UFC could book right now. However, the UFC has been resistant to paying those premium prices and instead crafted last night’s interim title fight.
Now, it seems as though the UFC will get its wish in having Ngannou fight someone other than Jones for a price they are more willing to part with.
Ngannou vs. Gane is not only financially appealing to the UFC, it also offers a tried and tested storyline of former training partners turned rivals. Both men used to train out of the MMA Factory in Paris. However, Ngannou moved on from that gym after some high profile losses in the Octagon (one to Miocic and one to Lewis).
UFC President Dana White has gushed about the potential of the bout, saying the WWE’s Vince McMahon couldn’t have scripted it better.
Before he took the belt from Miocic, Ngannou went on a tear stopping Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. None of those fights made it past the first round and only one of them lasted longer than 45 seconds.