Massive breaking news this afternoon involving the UFC‘s heavyweight division. Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the promotion is moving forward with an interim heavyweight title fight between Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) and Ciryl Gane (9-0).
The fight will headline UFC 265 on August 7th which will take place in Houston, Texas. This is a massive shot as Francis Ngannou (16-3) just became the undisputed heavyweight champion a few months ago.
The promotion had been trying to book Ngannou against Derrick Lewis for August, but Ngannou wasn’t ready. The latest word was that the UFC was going to book the heavyweight title fight for September, but everything changed on a dime.
Over the weekend at UFC Vegas 30, Ciryl Gane dominated Alexander Volkov to remain undefeated. After witnessing his performance, the UFC decided to move Gane up the ladder for an interim title fight against Lewis.
The manager for the UFC heavyweight champion was completely stunned by the news. Ngannou’s reps told Okamoto, “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.”
UFC’s odd decision
I honestly don’t understand the UFC’s logic here at all. By all accounts, Ngannou was going to be ready to defend his title in September. Over the last few years, the heavyweight title has been defended on average once per year.
Ngannou just won the title at the end of March. To make an interim title so soon is absolutely insane to me. Nevertheless, the UFC is moving forward and Ciryl Gane will battle Derrick Lewis in his backyard for the heavyweight title.
With this news, we likely won’t see Francis Ngannou against until the end of the year. Well, maybe the UFC will finally book Ngannou against Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) for the undisputed title then have the winners face off. Who knows, but I don’t think anyone saw this coming.