Francis Ngannou will have to sit on the sidelines at UFC 265 and watch Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane compete for the interim Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title, according to company President, Dana White.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported on Monday that White has settled for the unlikely showdown to headline UFC 265, which takes place on Sat., Aug. 7, 2021, via ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV). And it’s unlikely because Ngannou — who just lifted the strap of Stipe Miocic back in March — was reportedly unavailable to defend his title against Lewis in June or August.
Ngannou’s management was shocked to learn of the news, according to Okamoto, and will be following up with UFC.
The development comes after Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) was unavailable to defend his title in June or August. White said the company believes Lewis and Gane are deserving of a title shot now.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 28, 2021
“This comes as a complete shock,” Ngannou’s agent, Marquel Martin, told Okamoto. “To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise. We hope to get clarity and figure out something with the UFC soon.”
Per Ngannou’s agent, Marquel Martin … “This comes as a complete shock. To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise. We hope to get clarity and figure out something with the UFC soon.”— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 28, 2021
Lewis (No. 2) is currently riding a four-fight win streak with finishes over Curtis Blaydes and Aleksei Olenik. Gane (No. 3) enters the fight on a perfect 9-0 career run, most recently beating Alexander Volkov via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 30 on Sat., June 26, 2021 (full results here).
UFC 265 takes place on Sat., Aug. 7, 2021, via ESPN+ PPV. The card will be headlined by Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane for the UFC interim Heavyweight title and also boasts Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena for UFC women’s Bantamweight strap.
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