Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns later tonight (Sat., Aug. 7, 2021) to stage UFC 265 live from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Headlining the pay-per-view (PPV) event is an interim Heavyweight title fight between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane. In the co-main event, Jose Aldo will tango with Pedro Munhoz in a Bantamweight showdown.
It’s not the Heavyweight title fight we were hoping to get, but adding an interim strap to the Lewis vs Gane 265-pound clash just adds a bit more flare to it. Much to the chagrin of current champion Francis Ngannou, the promotion opted to take this route after the newly-minted champion declared he wasn’t ready to fight at the date UFC offered him. I get Ngannou’s frustration, but when he faces the winner, a “champion vs champion” label just looks a bit better.
Now, onto the fight at hand ...
Lewis came up short in his first bid to win the strap after he was forced to tap by Daniel Cormier at UFC 230. Since then, “Black Beast” has gone an impressive 4-1, winning his last four to put him in this position. As for Gane, he has yet to taste defeat, going undefeated (16-0), including winning all six of his UFC fights in the span of two years. When it comes to the big men, one shot can end it in the blink of an eye — more so than any other division — and these men are two of the heaviest hitters around. That said, there isn’t much to dissect here because we know what their respective strategies will be:
So it all comes down to who will land that homerun shot first. While Gane does have the Muay Thai experience, Lewis has slept his foes more often than not, so I give the power advantage to “Black Beast” here. Sure, we could end up having a snoozer as was the case when Lewis took on Ngannou, but I don’t really see it happening. Lewis is hungry here and I think he will come in more aggressive than usual to put on a memorable performance, capping it off with a knockout win in front of his hometown crowd.
I can’t complain too much here. UFC put on a decent card, though it is far from star-studded. The co-main event took a big hit when women’s “double champ,” Amanda Nunes, was forced out, but a fight between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz -- the new co-main -- should be a banger.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
As previously mentioned, the co-main event was set to feature a women’s Bantamweight title fight between Nunes and Julianna Pena. But, after Nunes came down with COVID-19 the bout was scrapped and is now being targeted for a December year-end event.
No injuries reported for this event.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Headlining the undercard of this event is a fight between Rafael Fiziev and Bobby Green. Fiziev has quickly captured the hearts of fight fans thanks to his aggressive and exciting fight style. He is 3-1 so far inside the Octagon and he looks to make more waves when he takes on an equally-entertaining Bobby Green. “King” had his three-fight win streak snapped at the hands of Thiago Moises in his last fight, so he will be coming in hungry for a win.
Also, long-time veteran Ed Herman will look to earn his fourth straight win when he takes on Alonzo Menifield, who snapped his two-fight skid in his last bout by taking out Fabio Chernat. In further action, Miles Johns will face off against Anderson dos Santos in what should be a banger of a fight at 135 pounds.
Manel Kape came into the Octagon with a ton of hype surrounding him since he was the former RIZIN Bantamweight champion. His run inside the Octagon, though, has been anything but stellar. Fighting in the Flyweight division, Kape is winless (0-2) in his first two fights and missed weight (badly) for his upcoming bout against Ode Osbourne. If he loses his third in a row, I don’t think UFC will keep him around, especially because of his scale fail.
Also, after suffering the first loss of his career in his UFC debut, former King of the Cage titleholder Johnny Munoz looks to turn it around against Jamey Simmons, who was starched in his first UFC fight by Giga Chikadze.
Melissa Gatto will make her UFC debut when she takes on Victoria Leonardo. Gatto is undefeated thus far in her mixed martial arts (MMA) career (6-0-1) and has only been fighting professionally for five years. As for Leonardo, she is hoping to right her ship after hitting an iceberg in her UFC debut in the form of Manon Fiorot, who knocked her out in two rounds.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Karolina Kowalkiewicz was once a Strawweight title contender, now she is simply looking for a win to save her UFC career. After starting off her career a perfect 10-0, things have gone downhill in a hurry for the Polish-born fighter, going 2-6 since 2016, which includes a title fight loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She is riding a four-fight losing streak going into her fight against Jessica Penne, so she needs a win in the worst way in order to avoid the dreaded pink slip.
Interest Level: 6.5/10
After coming up short in his bid to win Bantamweight title against Petr Yan, Jose Aldo stormed back to pick up a huge win over Marlon Vera. Now, he looks for his second straight win at 135 pounds against a very game Pedro Munhoz, who snapped his two-fight skid with a big win over Jimmie Rivera. Munhoz hopes to crack the Top 5 with a big win over the former Featherweight kingpin, while Aldo hopes to throw his name back in the hat for a title shot with a win over his fellow countrymen.
This fight is 50/50 for me because let’s face it, Aldo isn’t in his prime. Had it been five or six years ago I would say Munhoz has no business in the cage with Aldo. But, now that “Junior” has lost a step or two, Munhoz has a chance to get the win here. We know he can crack with the best of them, the question is whether or not he’s going to let Aldo’s aura get to him come fight night. After all, every young Brazilian fighter coming up, I’m sure, idolized Aldo during his reign of terror.
Vicente Luque stormed back after coming up short against Stephen Thompson to win his third straight fight, defeating Tyron Woodley via submission in his last outing. He looks to go for his fourth in a row against Michael Chiesa, a man who has slowly won four in a row. It’s a sneaky good Welterweight match up, which could have major rankings implications for the victor.
Tecia Torres and Angela Hill will also collide for the second time in a rematch that, well, doesn’t really have a ton of meaning. “Tiny Tornado” defeated Hill rather convincingly six years ago, so why this fight was made was a bit of a head scratcher, especially when there are several other fights at Strawweight for both ladies.
Opening up the PPV main card is another Bantamweight scrap between Casey Kenny and Song Yadong. Kenny is coming off a close split-decision loss to former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 259, which snapped his three-fight win streak. And even though Song Yadong doesn’t have as big a name as Cruz, Kenny will be in for another tough fight because “The Kung Fu Monkey” is 8-1-1 in his last 10 fights with his lone loss coming at the hands of Kyler Phillips at UFC 259.
Enjoy the fights!
UFC 265 Main Event on ESPN+ PPV:
265 lbs.: Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane for interim heavyweight title
UFC 265 Main Card on ESPN+ PPV (10 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena— CANCELED (full details here)
135 lbs.: Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz
170 lbs.: Michael Chiesa vs. Vicente Luque
115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Tecia Torres
135 lbs.: Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong
UFC 265 Prelims Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Bobby Green
135 lbs.: Vince Morales vs. Drako Rodriguez
205 lbs.: Ed Herman vs. Alonzo Menifield
115 lbs.: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne
UFC 265 Early Prelims Card on Fight Pass/ESPN+ (6 p.m. ET):
125 lbs.: Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne
135 lbs.: Anderson dos Santos vs. Miles Johns
125 lbs.: Melissa Gatto vs. Victoria Leonardo
135 lbs.: Johnny Munoz vs. Jamey Simmons
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
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 Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches at 6 p.m. ET, followed by 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+.
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