UFC 265: Preview & Prediction: Gane vs Lewis
By Cathal Geeney
In one of the stranger PPV main events of recent times, Derrick Lewis will take on Ciryl Gane for the UFC interim heavyweight title.
With the undisputed heavyweight title having been defended as recently as March, and with current champ Francis Ngannou publicly declaring he would be ready to fight in September, the need for an Interim title points towards political grounds, as opposed sporting merits, being the driver of this bout.
But regardless of the reasoning behind it, the fight is set for this Saturday night between two heavyweight giants.
Ciryl Gane is yet to taste defeat in his nine professional contests to date. The Frenchman has impressed with wins over top contenders Volkov, Rozenstruik and Dos Santos in his last three outings. Despite an intimidating physique, standing at 6ft 5 in and weighing 245 pounds of what appears to be pure muscle, Gane is very much a technical fighter.
The thirty-one-year-old is light on his feet, constantly bouncing in and out of striking range and firing off shots. Primarily from a southpaw stance, but often switching to orthodox, Gane’s striking output is very impressive. He picks his moments to explode with a flurry of big shots while also constantly firing off punches and kicks to the legs, body and head. The pressure and output of the undefeated Muay Thai fighter has proven too much for all his opponents to date.
Despite transitioning to MMA from Muay Thai, Gane’s grappling has looked solid so far. He is strong in the clinch and has managed to complete five successful takedowns in his UFC career to date, without being taken down once. The more we have seen of Cyril in the octagon, the more he has impressed.
Where Gane is technical, well-rounded and precise, Lewis is wild, unorthodox and unpredictable. The Black Beast is one of the more unique fighters on the UFC roster. He often looks to be struggling and very much on the back foot, before leaning on his incredible knockout power to get a finish. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Houston native even looks slightly disinterested at times. Despite this, he has shown durability to hang in fights and has a knack of picking the right moment to pounce.
Wrestling has been an area where Lewis has struggled in the past, giving up eleven takedowns in his last six fights. And while this may be an area Gane looks to target, he must be careful with any entries. Lewis is coming off a devastating knockout where he caught Curtis Blaydes with a huge uppercut as he looked to initiate a takedown. For Lewis, offence may be his best form of defence.
Although many will be greatly disappointed that Ngannou is not involved in this weekend’s action, this will serve to set up an exciting narrative, regardless of who has their hand raised.
Lewis currently holds a victory over the current title holder in what was one of the most anticlimactic bouts in recent memory.
While Cyril Gane is a fellow Frenchman and commenced his MMA journey in the same gym, the MMA Factory in Paris, as Ngannou. For whoever comes out on top, the Predator will be ready and waiting to prove that he is the greatest heavyweight on the planet.
It is difficult to look past the undefeated Cyril Gane for this one. If he maintains the level of performance we have seen recently, he will have too much volume for Lewis to handle. Gane’s footwork and movement is also superior and should serve to aid him in evading a potential knockout blow.
With that being said, Lewis has been written off many times before and has manged to overcome obstacles to get a victory. With twelve UFC KOs, Lewis lays claim to the title of having most knockouts in UFC history and he will be confident he can add to that.
But for me, this will be too much of a stretch and I expect Gane to come out victorious, potentially even finding a stoppage of his own against a tiring Derrick Lewis. #UFC265