Ciryl Gane (10-0) earned a TKO against Derrick Lewis (25-8) to become the interim heavyweight champion in the main event of UFC 265 from Houston, Tex.
— Elma Aksalic (@ElmaAksalic) August 8, 2021
Lewis and Gane spent the first near minute staring each other down, with the former throwing a head kick and the latter slipping a few low leg kicks. Gane chipped away at leg kicks, staying active as Lewis walked his opponent backwards. It took Lewis more than three minutes before he landed his first strike, landing a body shot before following it with a low blow that forced a brief ref stoppage. Back underway, Lewis got inside with Gane and tossed a couple haymakers but couldn’t solidly connect. He chased Gane down with a flurry yet again, forcing his opponent to retreat backward before he was countered with a chopping body kick.
— UFC (@ufc) August 8, 2021
In between rounds, Lewis’s camp reiterated his need to keep moving forward, not backward. To open the second, Gane continued to chip leg kicks followed by stiff jabs, leaving Lewis stationary or slightly moving backward. Gane continued to operate from range, keeping Lewis at a distance while working his legs. Offering no respect for Lewis’s hands, Gane switched out being engaged with striking to rocking back and forth and shaking out his arms.
The third opened with much of the same, with Lewis flat-footed and unable to really gain any momentum. Gane had effectively silenced the hometown Houston crowd with Lewis on the outside. Gane hurt Lewis bad with a slew of strikes against the cage, with the ref giving Lewis every opportunity to defend himself. After a brief stoppage to give Lewis his mouthpiece, which had fallen out, Gane finished the fight on the ground to become the new interim heavyweight champion.
After Lewis’s first title shot ended in a submission at the hands of Daniel Cormier, the Black Beast returned to the Octagon Saturday night with hopes to make good on his second opportunity. But this one was arguably less competitive than his loss to Cormier. He was outstruck and unable to get anything going all night. His devastating loss came on the heels of three consecutive wins over his own fair share of top contenders: Curtis Blaydes, Aleksei Oleinik, and Ilir Latifi.
Gane, however, put an exclamation point on his unbeaten record, as he moved to double digits at UFC 265 with the win over Lewis. The new interim champ had rattled off wins over top contenders Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Alexander Volkov and Junior dos Santos on his way to his first shot at UFC gold, but saved his most dominant performance for the championship fight. His excellent movement was on full display and he showed a catalog of skills that could offer Francis Ngannou fits if he doesn’t let the champ get going.
There’s no telling when that fight will be booked, but considering the lack of damage he took, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see something toward the end of the year.