UFC 265 is set to get another title fight.
On top of a UFC women’s bantamweight championship bout between Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena, a contest for the interim heavyweight belt pitting Ciryl Gane against Derrick Lewis has been added.
The news was first reported by ESPN and the news was broken to the outlet by UFC president Dana White himself.
According to the report, this fight was booked because UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou will not be ready to defend his title by 7 August, the date of the UFC 265 event. It’s said that the promotion previously attempted to book Ngannou vs. Lewis for UFC 263 earlier this month.
This news came as a surprise to many observers, including Ngannou and his team. The Cameroonian powerhouse only won his belt in March, courtesy of a second-round knockout win over the promotion’s most decorated heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
“This comes as a complete shock,” Marquel Martin, Ngannou’s agent, told ESPN. “To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise.
“Francis is just now returning to the States to begin training, and he just won the title three months ago. We’re unsure of what the reasoning is behind this, but we hope to get clarity soon and figure out something with the UFC soon. At the end of the day, they’re in control of these decisions.”
This past weekend, Gane earned a dominant unanimous decision win over top contender Alexander Volkov.
The Frenchman is unbeaten in an MMA career that started less than three years ago, posting nine wins in total with six coming while on the UFC roster.
With the event taking place in Houston, Texas, Lewis is set to fight for a belt in his hometown.
Lewis has won his last four bouts. His appearance in February, his last, saw him knockout another contender in Curtis Blaydes in spectacular fashion.
“The Black Beast” already has a win over champion Ngannou, edging a decision win in a lacklustre contest back in 2018.