Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight strikers Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane will clash for the interim title TONIGHT (Sat., Aug. 7, 2021) at UFC 265 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Sure, this whole interim title situation is basically BS, a cheap ploy to move pay-per-view (PPV) buys while a healthy Francis Ngannou sits on the sidelines. Yet, in this case, perhaps it’s best not to consider the details and instead focus on a single thing: Derrick Lewis, power-punching Texan with more sly jokes than techniques, might get to raise a belt over his head.
That’d be pretty awesome.
Doing his damnedest to prevent that hilariously great moment is Gane, who happens to be his division’s best up-and-comer. We have been promised many “new breeds” of Heavyweights over the years, but Gane is the rare prospect who actually lives up to the concept, as his overall skill will certain force the division to elevate its game.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Curtis Blaydes (UFC Vegas 19), Alexander Volkov (UFC 229), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 6), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 244), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 102)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 230), Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 146), Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 110), Shawn Jordan (UFC Fight Night 68)
Keys to Victory: Lewis is a famously limited fighter, a brawler with pretty mediocre all-around skills. Fortunately, that has not stopped him from racking up the knockouts and setting records, as Lewis’ combination of monstrous power and enduring grit remain a considerable challenge for most any Heavyweight.
Lewis may not have a ton of tools, but “Black Beast” is no dummy. In recent fights vs. Aleksei Oleinik and Curtis Blaydes, Lewis very clearly strategized for his opponents, downright plagiarizing Walt Harris’ finish strategy vs. “Boa Constrictor” before planning on countering Blaydes’ habit of diving into takedowns.
Simple strategies, but when only a single right hand is needed to end the fight, little else is required.
Against Gane, Lewis has to press. If allowed, Gane will hang back and kick without committing to his punches for the full 25 minutes — he would be a fool not to! Historically, Gane tends to answer aggression with aggression when opponents really try to brawl with him, so if Lewis can force that reaction, it’s his best chance at baiting Gane into a kill shot.
Key Wins: Jairzino Rozenstruik (UFC Vegas 20), Junior dos Santos (UFC 256), Tanner Boser (UFC Fight Night 165), Raphael Pessoa (UFC Fight Night 156)
Key Losses: None
Keys To Victory: Gane is a fleet-footed Muay Thai fighter who can rip hard kicks from both stances. He’s quite tricky with his set ups, and for an inexperienced kickboxer, Gane sure seems to have a great understanding of the whole grappling aspect of MMA.
Put simply, Gane is built to take apart fighters like Lewis. He’s too mobile and too rangy, routinely winning the distance battle than making attempts to crash forward look silly. On paper, this is an absolute rout for the Frenchman.
Gane, however, must remember that Lewis was a layup match up for men like Blaydes and Volkov as well, but that didn’t stop “Black Beast” from putting them into deep, deep sleeps. Perhaps the true crux of this match up for Gane will be mental, as he has to constantly remind himself that Lewis is dangerous and must treated with extreme care.
Otherwise, Gane has the tools to win easily. At distance, he should be ripping the body immediately with power kicks and toe stabs, both of which have curled Lewis over in the past. If Lewis is too wounded trying to breathe, he won’t be slinging leather nearly as often, and those moments also give Gane opportunities to attack the legs and further increase his speed advantage.
One man will enter his next bout vs. Francis Ngannou with some real steam behind him.
For Lewis, this is still the potential culmination of many years of hard work and top contenders. It’s his second shot at gold, and since he does have a win over Francis Ngannou already, it would feel just a touch more justified to see him with the interim strap. More importantly, Lewis raising the belt in his home town would be a feel good moment, a somewhat rare thing in combat sports.
As for Gane, he’s advertised as the future of the division. Picking up a title — interim or not — in his 10th professional fight certainly backs up those claims. It also sets up a majorly high-profile bout vs. Ngannou, as an already great match up would be bolstered by their history as training partners and the unification of the titles.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 265 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 265, Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane will battle in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?