Ahead of UFC 270, contract questions surround Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou

This weekend is UFC 270 and the focus should be on the main event. The main event is an undisputed heavyweight title fight between the champion Francis Ngannou (16-3) and the interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0). Ngannou and Gane used to train together and both had the same head trainer.

There is a little bad blood between Ngannou and his former trainer. Everyone should be focused on UFC 270 for the heavyweight title fight that takes place. However, there is one storyline that is developing outside the cage that is grabbing a lot of headlines.

This weekend, Francis Ngannou will fight out of his current UFC contract. The champion is on the last fight of his current deal. Now, there is a champion’s clause to the contract that states if Ngannou remains the champion after Saturday, the UFC has him under contract for the next 12 months.

However, Ngannou said he would wait it out if he’s not given a new contract. Ngannou’s management recently said that the UFC nearly finalized a new deal with them over the summer, but when Ngannou couldn’t make their Houston PPV work, the contract offer was pulled.

UFC and Ngannou at a stand still

When you think of a classic heavyweight champion, you think of Francis Ngannou. A man with a tremendous life story, larger than life in reality, and he has devastating knockout power. Ngannou is the closest thing that the UFC has ever had to Mike Tyson.

The promotion should be promoting him like crazy, but for one reason or another, it doesn’t happen. Ngannou hasn’t been given the star treatment that he should and that’s likely being voiced by his management team. A management team that clearly doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Dana White.

If Francis Ngannou starches Ciryl Gane at UFC 270, the UFC needs to play ball. Ngannou could be the biggest star in the sport not named Conor McGregor if he’s promoted correctly. That said, if Ngannou loses on Saturday night, he might be done with the UFC for good.

There’s so much on the line Saturday night. Ngannou could be looking at a future where he’s the biggest star in the world. Or he could look down at the shattered glory with not a clue about what comes next.

Three UFC fights that need to happen in 2022

Conor McGregor, UFC

The calendar is getting ready to turn over to 2022 and the UFC has big plans for the next calendar year. There were so many big fights that took place in 2021, and the world’s premier MMA organization will look to continue that next year.

Some of the notable fights that took place this year are the two fights with Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Charles Oliveira became the UFC lightweight champion when he knocked out Michael Chandler.

UFC 261 featured the return to arenas and saw Kamaru Usman and Rose Namajunas score big knockout wins in their title fights. Then you had the fight of the year at UFC 268 when Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler.

So many epic moments and epic fights took place this year. As mentioned, the UFC is already making fights through April of next year. There are some big things in the works.

That being said, what are some of the fights that are must makes for the promotion next year?

UFC fights that need to happen

Conor McGregor – Nate Diaz 3

This one feels like an obvious choice. The UFC needs to make the trilogy between Conor McGregor (22-6) and Nate Diaz (20-13). It’s a perfect time in both men’s career to run this fight back.

When they first fought, Diaz shocked everyone by submitting Conor McGregor at UFC 196. Then McGregor won an instant classic in the rematch at UFC 201. Since then, the trilogy has been always on the table.

However, the UFC has never pulled the trigger on it. Given where both men stand, I think it’s the perfect time for it.

Colby Covington – Jorge Masvidal

The next fight the UFC needs to make is arguably the biggest grudge match there is to make. That would be the matchup between former teammates and close friends Colby Covington (16-3) and Jorge Masvidal (35-15).

Both of these men are also in a very similar position. They’ve both lost to Kamaru Usman twice and will need some big momentum to warrant a third shot against the UFC champion.

They’ve been jawing at each other for the past couple of years, but the fight has never come together. Now is the time for the UFC to make this happen and even perhaps make them coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.

Jon Jones – Heavyweight Champion

The last fight the UFC needs to make this year is booking Jon Jones‘ (26-1, 1 NC) return fight for the heavyweight title. We haven’t seen Jones in the UFC since the beginning of 2020.

Jones has bulked up in anticipation of his heavyweight debut which is expected to be for the title. Next month, Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane will battle for the undisputed heavyweight title.

You can imagine that Jones will be watching closely. He’s hinted that he wants to fight the winner next summer, and I think that would be an ideal situation for the UFC.

2021 UFC Fighter of the Year

2021 was a huge year for the UFC. We saw some incredible fights, stunning upsets, and monumental wins. There were so many fighters who had sensational 2021 campaigns.

One fighter that stands out is interim UFC heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane (10-0). Gane has completely taken off this year and he’s showing the world just how special he is. The French heavyweight started the year by taking on Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

After outpointing Rozenstruik, he defeated Alexander Volkov. That win against Volkov earned him an interim title shot against Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 in Houston. Gane had the best performance of his career and stopped The Black Beast in the third round. Talk about an incredible year.

Another fighter that really stands out is Charles Oliveira (32-8). Oliveira competed twice and stopped Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier to win and defend the UFC lightweight title.

While these are just two examples, there are so many other fighters who also had incredible years. All that being said, there is one UFC fighter who stands out amongst all fighters for their year in 2021.

2021 UFC Fighter of the Year – Kamaru Usman

Make no mistake about it, Kamaru Usman (20-1) is the only choice for UFC Fighter of the Year. The Pound for Pound king had three appearances in 2021 which solidified him as the best in the world.

To start the year, Usman defended his UFC title against Gilbert Burns. In all transparency, I thought Burns had the best chance to dethrone him given his style. However, Usman showed just how good he is and stopped Burns.

Then, he had a rematch with Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261. Most people expected Usman to defeat Masvidal by utilizing his wrestling. However, Usman shocked everyone when he knocked Gamebred out cold on the feet.

To cap off his year, Usman defended his title against Colby Covington at UFC 268. If Usman is 1A, Covington is clearly 1B. Covington would be the welterweight champion if Kamaru Usman wasn’t competing.

However, Usman is competing and these two had another close fight in November. When the scorecards were read, Usman won again making him 2-0 against the second best welterweight in the world.

Usman is starting to beat guys at 170 for the second time. However, his greatest UFC challenge might come to a head in 2022. If you want one fighter who has the potential to stop Usman’s run, it would be Khamzat Chimaev.

However, Chimaev is still a win or two away from a title shot. Right now, it’s hard to see Usman’s reign coming to an end. The Pound for Pound king deserves to be celebrated and he’s clearly the UFC’s Fighter of the Year in 2021.

Stipe Miocic down to fight Jon Jones or Francis Ngannou in UFC return

MMA, Stipe Miocic

In a couple of months, UFC 270 will play host to a massive heavyweight title fight. The heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16-3) will be defending his title against the undefeated interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0).

While there is a ton of attention on this title fight, there are a couple of huge heavyweight contenders lurking in the shadows. The biggest one being arguably the greatest fighter of all time in Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones has been bulking up for over a year anticipating a move to heavyweight.

Lately, the former light heavyweight champion is weighing just under the heavyweight limit at 260 pounds. Jones has been rumored to be the front-runner to face off against whoever wins at UFC 270. However, there’s another contender that’s flying under the radar.

That contender is the former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3). Miocic is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight in the promotion’s history. However, he has a history of being overlooked and essentially disrespected by the UFC.

Last March, Miocic lost his heavyweight title to Ngannou. Despite having gone 8-2 in his last ten which includes six wins in title fights, Miocic has been mostly out of the conversation in terms of the heavyweight title picture.

UFC Return

Back in August when the UFC booked Ciryl Gane against Derrick Lewis for the interim heavyweight title, Miocic wasn’t even considered for the fight. While this has certainly annoyed Miocic, the former champion is taking it in strides as he prepares for his return.

Miocic talked with Ariel Helwani today and the two discussed his UFC return. The former heavyweight champion made it clear that he would fight anyone, however, there are a couple of fights that really interest him.

“I’m down [to fight Jon Jones] … Obviously, I really want that trilogy fight [with Francis Ngannou],” transcribed by MMA Fighting. The UFC and Jon Jones can never seem to get on the same page these days. In my opinion, Jones would be the promotion’s first choice for the winner of Ngannou – Gane.

However, I think Miocic is likely to get the shot given the negotiation issues between Jones and the promotions. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out, but either way, I’m excited to see Stipe back in the octagon sometime next spring.

UFC targeting Francis Ngannou – Ciryl Gane for January (Report)

Francis Ngannou

The UFC has kicked off the last couple of years with a bang having Conor McGregor in their featured PPV in January. Well, The Notorious one is on the shelf, but the UFC is planning on a massive PPV for their first event of 2022 without McGregor.

French news outlet La Sueur is reporting that the UFC is in advanced talks to book a heavyweight title fight for UFC 270 on January 22nd. The matchup would pair the heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16-3) against the interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0).

It is also being reported that the rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker will take place in the co-main event. With a heavyweight unification bout in the main event and that rematch in the co-main, it’s clear that UFC 270 is going to be massive.

Ciryl Gane has taken the UFC by storm since he made his debut with the promotion back in 2019. He debuted and he was very green at 4-0. However, he’s continued to get better and better and he’s a perfect 6-0 inside the octagon.

In his last fight, he took on Derrick Lewis for the interim UFC heavyweight title. Gane completely outclassed Lewis on the feet and ended up stopping him in the third round.

UFC Heavyweight Unification

While Gane had a title wrapped around his waste at UFC 265, it was more of a guarantee than a title. That belt guarantees Gane a shot at the current heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou.

Originally, the UFC wanted Ngannou and Lewis to face off back in August. However, when Ngannou said he wouldn’t be ready until September, the promotion scrapped the plans and gave Gane the shot while putting an interim title on the line.

Ngannou was incredibly frustrated by this decision justifiably so. The champion has won five consecutive fights with the longest one lasting 52 seconds into the second round.

The last time we saw Ngannou was at UFC 260 when he rematched with Stipe Miocic. Ngannou completely dominated the fight and knocked Stipe out cold to claim the heavyweight title. The Predator will look for his first successful title defense in January.

After UFC 265 performance, will Ciryl Gane be the favorite against Francis Ngannou?

Ciryl Gane UFC

Last weekend at UFC 265, we saw a new interim heavyweight champion crowned. Ciryl Gane (10-0) took on Derrick Lewis (25-8, 1 NC) in front of Houston, Texas which is the hometown of The Black Beast.

Gane looked incredibly composed and confident as he walked out to “Still Tippin” by Houston rapper Mike Jones. The crowd erupted in boos as Gane made his way to the octagon with a big smile on his face.

It was almost like Gane had a secret heading into UFC 265. From the opening moments of the fight, it was very apparent how the fight was going to go. Gane used his sleek movement and speed to fluster Lewis.

Lewis could never get close enough to land a signature power shot on Saturday night. Gane completely dominated all aspects of the fight and in the third round, he really turned things on. The Frenchman unleashed a vicious combination that put Lewis down and crowned Gane the interim UFC champion.

Favored Over the UFC Undisputed Champion?

Being crowned interim UFC champion is basically having a belt and being the number one contender. Now that Gane has the interim title, he’s earned himself a matchup with the undisputed champion, Francis Ngannou (16-3).

Ngannou has been a freight train on his way to capturing the UFC heavyweight title. He became the undisputed champion back in March when he knocked out the great Stipe Miocic in the second round.

That win was the fifth straight knockout win for Ngannou. With a champion like that, you would think he would be the favorite against any man that he steps in the octagon with. I mean Ngannou was even the big favorite over Jon Jones when that potential fight was being discussed.

However, after UFC 265, the betting lines are dead even. If you ask most people in the MMA community, many are saying that Gane should be the favorite when he takes on his former teammate Francis Ngannou.

The argument is that the style and distance control of Gane is the perfect style to defeat the UFC champion. I can see the point, but I still believe that the betting favorite heading into title unification bout should be the undisputed champion. However, the odds in either direction should be incredibly close.

How does Francis Ngannou fare against Ciryl Gane after UFC 265?

Francis Ngannou

This past Saturday at UFC 265, the interim heavyweight title was on the line. The undefeated Ciryl Gane (10-0) was taking on heavyweight knockout artist Derrick Lewis (25-8, 1 NC) in Lewis’ hometown of Houston, Texas.

An extremely interested observer on Saturday night was the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou (16-3). Ngannou just won the title back in March when he knocked out Stipe Miocic.

After the win, he took some time to visit Africa and didn’t arrive back in the US to start training until June. The UFC wanted Ngannou to turn right around and face Lewis in Houston to headline UFC 265.

Ngannou said he would fight in September, but turned down the August fight because he would only have six weeks to train. As a result, the UFC made an interim title and put Ciryl Gane in there with Derrick Lewis.

Gane is a former teammate of Francis Ngannou. The Frenchman completely dominated Lewis on Saturday night to become the interim UFC champion. Ngannou had a simple message for Gane after the fight, “See you soon boy

How does the UFC champ fare against the interim champ?

Ciryl Gane is a nightmare for most heavyweights in the UFC. Gane has a complete skillset and brings a level of athleticism that’s very rare for the heavyweight division. He’s incredibly long and he’s light on his feet like someone in the middleweight division.

The UFC commentators talked about the fact that he will be a problem for Francis Ngannou. That said, I believe that Francis Ngannou is the only guy who can bring all this Ciryl Gane talk to a screeching halt.

While Derrick Lewis holds a win over Francis Ngannou, the two are not on the same level. Ngannou is very fast, extremely strong, and he’s very long. In fact, his reach is a couple of inches longer than Ciryl Gane’s.

The champion has the ability to close the distance fast enough and he’s long enough to land the power shots that Lewis simply couldn’t. Nobody should take the UFC 265 fight between Lewis and Gane and apply it to breaking down the fight with Ngannou.

Ciryl Gane just might have the perfect style to stifle the champion. However, if there’s anyone in the division who can catch Gane and put him to sleep, it’s Francis Ngannou. Going into their fight, I believe that Ngannou should still be the favorite, and I personally would still bet on the UFC heavyweight champ.

What’s next for Derrick Lewis after coming up short at UFC 265?

This past Saturday at UFC 265 in the main event, the interim heavyweight title was on the line. Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (25-8, 1 NC) was fighting in his hometown as he was taking on the undefeated Ciryl Gane (10-0).

The winner of the interim title would earn a shot at the undisputed UFC champion Francis Ngannou (16-3). Going into UFC 265, the game plan was pretty obvious for both men.

For Derrick Lewis, it was going to be about finding that one shot that would put Gane out. Lewis has ungodly power in his hands and he’s proven that he just needs to hit you one good time for the show to be over.

For Ciryl Gane, it was going to be about being elusive and striking from the outside. Well, one of those game plans was executed perfectly. The fighter who executed perfectly at UFC 265 was Ciryl Gane.

Gane kept Lewis on the outside all night long. Lewis never really got close to landing anything significant and it was domination from Gane. Gane ended up stopping Lewis in the third round.

What’s next after UFC 265?

This is a tough one to swallow for Lewis who was fighting for the UFC title in his hometown. All week long, Lewis talked about how much pressure was on his shoulders to perform in front of his friends, his family, and his city.

To be completely honest, I think the moment got to Lewis a bit. Combine that with the sheer brilliance of Ciryl Gane and you had the perfect recipe for disaster for The Black Beast at UFC 265.

From here, where does Lewis go? Well, for anyone who’s quick to write of Lewis, I’ll remind you that he’s still one of the very best heavyweights in the UFC. Remember, he did just knock out Curtis Blaydes a few months ago.

There’s two opponents that I’m looking at for Derrick Lewis next. The first one is Stipe Miocic (20-4). Let’s be honest, Miocic wants and likely deserves an immediate rematch for the UFC heavyweight title. However, we know the promotion isn’t doing that.

If Miocic wants to be active, he should take a fight with Lewis. It would be a massive fight for both men and for fans. The other opponent I’m thinking about is Alexander Volkov (33-9).

Volkov and Lewis fought before at UFC 229 and Volkov dominated most of the fight before a last second Lewis knockout. If Volkov wins his fight against Marcin Tybura, I’m sure fans would love to see that rematch for The Black Beast.

Ciryl Gane dominates and finishes Derrick Lewis at UFC 265

Ciryl Gane UFC

In the headliner of UFC 265 we saw two top heavyweights battle it out for the interim heavyweight title. The hometown favorite Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) was taking on Ciryl Gane (9-0) in Houston.

The Black Beast entered the octagon as the second ranked heavyweight in the UFC. He’s on a four-fight win streak, but his last performance really put him over the top. Back in February, he knocked Curtis Blaydes out cold to earn this shot.

Standing across from Lewis is Ciryl Gane. Gane has a perfect record and he’s been dominant since joining the UFC. Gane made his debut with the promotion back in 2019 and he’s gone 6-0.

This year alone, Gane has had two headlining fights against Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov. In both of those fights, Gane used his footwork and incredible striking technique to pickup two lopsided decision wins.

UFC 265 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 265 main event gets started with a touch of the gloves and here we go. Gane immediately on his toes as he takes the center of the cage. Lewis is sitting on the outside already looking to time a power shot.

Big head kick attempt from Lewis gets blocked by Gane. Gane pushing forward and Lewis has his back against the fence. Jab lands from Ciryl Gane. Three straight low kicks land for Gane.

Gane very light on his feet here in the first. Lewis starts plotting forward looking for his opening. However, Gane is remaining elusive here in the first. Nice jab lands for Gane. He follows it with a nice kick and another jab.

Low kick for Gane. Lewis trying to cut off Gane, but Gane lands a kick and gets out of the way. Another jab from Ciryl Gane. Lewis goes for a body kick and it lands low and we have a break in the action.

Lewis circles on the outside as we get back to the action. Gane light on his feet and Lewis tries to explode and land a bomb. However, Gane avoided the power. More shots from Gane land in the final seconds and the round comes to a close. 1-0 Ciryl Gane here at UFC 265.

Round 2

Entering the second here at UFC 265 and both guys still look fresh here. Gane bouncing again to start the second and he lands a couple of low kicks. Power jab lands for Ciryl Gane that backs up Derrick Lewis.

Big leg kick lands for Lewis, but he’s still not able to find any shots up top. Good 1-2 lands for Gane over the guard of Lewis. Lewis explodes forward, but again, can’t find the bomb that he’s looking for.

High kick from Lewis just misses. Low kick and jab lands for Gane. Gane tries for a jump knee and the two men end up in a clinch. Lewis gets pushed back to the fence by Gane and Gane starts landing knees to the thigh.

The crowd is becoming a little restless here and the two men separate. Another kick lands for Gane. Lewis tries for a big right hand, but he’s a too far out of range. Two good jabs land for Gane and he follows it up with a big right straight.

The two clinch briefly and Gane lands a vicious elbow on the break. Lewis tries to land a counter right hand, but he misses wildly. The second round comes to a close and it’s 2-0 Gane here at UFC 265.

Round 3

Entering the third round at UFC 265 and Lewis needs to get it going here. Lewis starts the striking with a body kick, but Gane immediately pushes him back with pressure. Gane lands two powerful leg kicks and he follows it with a big right hand.

Another huge kick from Gane finds it’s home and Lewis’ lead leg. Gane is completely chopping down Lewis’ lead leg here in the third round. Another kick lands and Lewis tries pushing forward, but Gane just shrugs him off.

We are halfway through this fight and it’s been completely one-sided. Lewis gets a body lock and tries for a takedown, but Gane defends well. Gane breaks and he lands a jab to the body. Lewis explodes and it looks like his leg buckles.

Gane hurts Derrick Lewis badly and he starts pouring it on. Lewis tries to blast back, but there’s nothing there. Gane is beating him up and Lewis goes down. Follow up shots are not answered and the referee calls a stop to the action. Domination by the new interim UFC heavyweight champion.

Ciryl Gane def. Derrick Lewis by TKO – Round 3

UFC 265 Preview: Derrick Lewis – Ciryl Gane

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC 265 we will see two top heavyweights battle it out for the interim heavyweight title. The hometown favorite Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) takes on Ciryl Gane (9-0) in Houston.

The Black Beast enters tomorrow as the second ranked heavyweight in the UFC. He’s on a four-fight win streak, but his last performance really put him over the top. Back in February, he knocked Curtis Blaydes out cold to earn this shot.

Standing across from Lewis is Ciryl Gane. Gane has a perfect record and he’s been dominant since joining the UFC. Gane made his debut with the promotion back in 2019 and he’s gone 6-0.

This year alone, Gane has had two headlining fights against Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov. In both of those fights, Gane used his footwork and incredible striking technique to pickup two lopsided decision wins.

Obviously tomorrow night is not for the undisputed heavyweight title. The UFC‘s heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou (16-3), is waiting in the wings for the winner of the UFC 265 headliner.

UFC 265 Prediction

When you look at the skillset of both men, the UFC 265 headliner looks like it would be easy to predict. When going skill for skill, Ciryl Gane is a much better fighter than Derrick Lewis.

You’re looking at someone in Gane who has incredible footwork, tremendous striking technique, solid skills on the ground, and cardio that lasts five rounds. Simply put, he’s the full package at heavyweight.

That said, Derrick Lewis possesses the great equalizer. Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou are the two hardest hitters in the UFC’s heavyweight division. You could argue that Lewis has the most power out of anyone in the division.

It takes one mistake with Lewis and you’re seeing stars. Curtis Blaydes was controlling their fight in February, but he got caught with an uppercut from hell in the second round and he was put out cold.

All it takes is for Ciryl Gane to make one mistake and he’s going out. However, I don’t think he’s going to make that mistake. I believe Gane is going to use a very smart game plan and I think he’ll be able to avoid the power. It might not be the most exciting at the end of the day, but I think Ciryl Gane walks away the interim UFC champion tomorrow night.

Prediction: Ciryl Gane by Unanimous Decision