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UFC 265: Lewis vs Gane - Five reasons you can't afford to miss it this weekend
The heavyweight championship scene will be shaken up this weekend with a new interim king crowned when Derrick Lewis faces Ciryl Gane, exclusively live on BT Sport. Here are the reasons you won’t want to miss it.
The big men take charge of proceedings on Saturday night as former heavyweight title challenger Derrick Lewis attempts to right the wrongs of his last attempt at the throne when he faces rising star Ciryl Gane for the interim belt at UFC 265.
They’ll be supporting by a stellar cast on the main card including Jose Aldo’s return to action in what promises to be a thrilling firefight against Brazilian countryman Pedro Munhoz.
And elsewhere, Michael Chiesa will hope to underline his burgeoning welterweight title credentials when he faces off against the teak-tough Vicente Luque.
With all that, plus much more, to look forward to from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, here are the reasons you won’t want to miss out on the action this Saturday night.
'The Black Beast' unleashed
Anyone who has been following mixed martial arts over the past few years will know that Derrick Lewis has emerged as one of the most entertaining and uniquely charismatic athletes on the roster.
From struggling with the temperature of his underwear at UFC 229 to confessing his desire to use the bathroom immediately after defeating Aleksei Oleinik last year, Lewis never fails to deliver on the mic.
I guarantee I will get the job done
- Derrick Lewis
And while almost every interview the 36-year-old gives becomes viral gold online, his thrilling, gung-ho fight style has helped make Lewis appointment viewing every time he steps foot inside the Octagon.
Riding a four-fight win streak – including a show-stopping knockout of Curtis Blaydes that pocketed Lewis a performance bonus on his last outing – the 25-7-1 star will come into this bout full of confidence that he can get the job.
“I’m expecting to come out of this fight victorious by any means necessary,” he told UFC Embedded this week.
“I can’t tell you how I’m going to get the job done – but I guarantee I will get the job done.”
His campaign will be buoyed by a raucous partisan crowd inside the Toyota Center in Houston – Lewis’ adopted home since moving from Louisiana with his family nearly two decades ago.
Can the popular knockout king claim one more win to snatch of piece of the heavyweight crown?
The new star of the heavyweight division?
Ciryl Gane’s irrepressible ascent through the heavyweight ranks could take another giant leap forwards on Saturday night when the Frenchman makes his maiden attempt at UFC gold.
The undefeated 31-year-old will be fighting for just the 10th time under MMA rules but comes into the bout with a wealth of combat experience as a world class Muay Thai and kickboxing practitioner.
Since making the transition to MMA three years ago, ‘Bon Gamin’ has been almost faultless in his performances, picking apart high-level opposition with relative ease on his way to the summit of the rankings.
How to watch UFC 265
Click here for everything you need to know about UFC 265 on BT Sport this weekend.
Following up a phenomenal second-round knockout of Junior dos Santos with an exhibition of technical striking prowess in wins over both Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov, there’s no doubt the Parisian is ready for his crack at a piece of the UFC world title.
Analysing his opponent during a chat with MMAMania.com this week, Gane said: “Yes, 100 percent he is one of the best guys in this division.
“He’s not well-rounded. When you have someone who cannot fight everywhere like me or [Alexander] Volkov or guys like that, it’s not good for him. That’s why sometimes it didn’t work [out for Lewis].
“I think it’s going to be the same gameplan.
“Maybe he’ll try wrestling or something like that. But everyone knows what his strengths are. He has big power with each hand. Everyone knows that. You have to be careful of that.”
There’s a very real possibility that Jose Aldo’s bantamweight matchup against Pedro Munhoz could steal the show this weekend.
Aldo, still only 34, has taken a little time to adjust to his new home south of his native 145lb division, as evidenced by his 1-2 record since campaigning at bantamweight.
However, coming into UFC 265 on the back of a mature three-round decision win over the game Marlon Vera, there are signs the future Hall of Famer is beginning to find his feet in unfamiliar territory.
Aldo’s mini rebound will be tested in the extreme by one of the 135lb division’s most entertaining fighters as he shapes up against Pedro Munhoz in the evening’s co-main event.
I love to do what I do
- Pedro Munhoz
Three Fight of the Night bonuses in his last four outings attest to Munhoz’s never-say-die mentality inside the Octagon but the 34-year-old remains desperate to embellish his legacy with gold alongside those famous nights.
Yet despite facing arguably the most accomplished opponent of his veteran career, Munhoz remains relaxed ahead of the big night this weekend.
“There’s definitely no pressure at all,” he said.
“I love to do what I do. We always want to win; of course, it’s a part of the process. But also, it’s something that I’m not thinking about. I’m just thinking of being able to show my performance the best that I can.
“With that itself, I try to put the pressure on the side and just see it as something that I am passionate about, which is just to fight and show my skills on that night. I think the victory will automatically and naturally, it’s going to happen.”
Write that cheque, Dana!
Since returning to welterweight after his well-documented struggles to make the lightweight limit, Michael Chiesa has enjoyed the best winning run of his UFC tenure.
Now four fights undefeated – including a dominant, near-shutout win over perennial welterweight gatekeeper Neil Magny last time out – Chiesa will not consider himself a million miles away from cracking the loftier heights of the 170lb rankings.
In order to continue that positive trajectory towards the ultimate goal of welterweight championship glory, the mild-mannered Colorado man must conquer another tough test in the shape of the surging Vicente Luque this weekend.
Luque, 29, has been one of the most consistent operators on the 170lb scene over the past few years, racking up a record of 13-3 across his UFC career.
Untimely losses have ultimately put the brakes on a sustained charge towards the top of the rankings but the Brazilian-American rarely disappoints when he steps into the Octagon.
With five performances bonuses in his last seven Octagon appearances, Luque has quietly become a hardcore fan favourite in recent times.
“On paper, it’s a grappler vs. striker kind of fight. There’s no secret I’m going to go out there to strike with him and try him knock him out,” Luque told BJPenn.com this week.
“He’s going to go out there and try and get me down and submit me. That’s what he does and what I do is strike.
“But I also have a ground game, I’m good at jiu-jitsu, I can complicate the ground game. He’s a better grappler than I am because he focuses a lot on that and is dangerous, but I can pull something off and surprise him.
“In the standup, I have better striking and can pressure him and that’s what I’m going to look to do. My kind of pressure is tough to handle so we’ll see.
“If he can handle it, it will be the Fight of the Night, if not I think I can get a finish.”
Is there a better division in the UFC?
The 155lb scene is thriving right now and we’re set to be treated to another lightweight cracker on the prelims this weekend as game veteran Bobby Green takes on one of Europe’s most exciting strikers in Rafael Fiziev.
Fiziev, 28, has been forced to play the waiting game ever since a show-stopping knockout of Renato Moicano in December last year that may have made some of his 155lb contemporaries think again before accepting the Kyrgyzstani’s challenge.
Not Bobby Green though.
Having shared the Octagon with the likes of Edson Barboza, Dustin Poirier and Thiago Moises, Green has been mixing it with the best of the best for years and will not fear the man in front of him come Saturday night.
The 34-year-old had been on a three-fight win streak before dropping a lop-sided decision to Moises last time out and should prove to be the perfect yardstick by which to measure Fiziev’s undoubted potential.
Can the up-and-comer crash the gates of the 155lb division?