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Four reasons you don't want to miss UFC 270 on BT Sport this Saturday night
The first numbered event of the year arrives with a bang, as we bring you exclusive coverage of an unmissable heavyweight unification between Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane.
One of the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight showdowns in years takes place exclusively live on BT Sport this weekend, as UFC 270 sees undisputed champion Francis Ngannou take on the interim king Ciryl Gane.
There’s a scintillating co-main event coming your way too as champion Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo make it a trilogy with the flyweight title on the line at the Anaheim Center.
With that, plus Michel Pereira vs Andre Fialho, coming your way from 1am on Saturday night live on BT Sport 2HD, here are four reasons you can’t miss UFC 270.
The Predator under pressure
It feels like an age since Francis Ngannou finally achieved the dream of a lifetime by lifting the heavyweight world title back at UFC 260 in March 2021.
On that night, ‘The Predator’ reaped his revenge on Stipe Miocic in a rematch of their first meeting back at UFC 220, separating the heavyweight champion from his senses with a brutal second-round knockout.
Ngannou travelled the globe with the belt displayed proudly around his waist, revelling in the completion of the UFC’s greatest rags-to-riches story.
He had the world at his feet and the heavyweight division at his beck and call – but in the near nine-month absence that followed the famous night at UFC 260, Ngannou’s place in the promotion has come under increasing scrutiny.
I will not fight for $500,000 [or] $600,000 anymore
- Francis Ngannou
Reportedly locked in tense negotiations with the UFC over the extension of a deal which is said to expire after his next fight unless he retains the belt, when a “champion clause” would extend the current terms, Ngannou has made his displeasure known on several occasions.
“I will not fight for $500,000 [or] $600,000 anymore. It's over,” Ngannou told ESPN last week.
“I took this fight for personal reasons, because I want to make sure that regardless of [whether] it's fair, I can make my case that I have completed the fights [on my contract].”
The tension is believed to have contributed to the UFC’s unusual decision to sanction Ciryl Gane vs Derrick Lewis as an interim heavyweight title fight at UFC 265, despite Ngannou being fit and ready to defend his undisputed belt.
Gane’s comfortable win handed the promotion further leverage in their discussions with the Cameroonian king; an heir had been found to his throne.
The fissure between fighter and company has threatened to become a distraction that may prove costly to the champion ahead of a fight many believe he will enter as the underdog.
A defeat may have consequences for Ngannou on multiple fronts, with chances of a rumoured showdown against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury likely to be significantly damaged regardless of his UFC future.
There’s a lot on the line for the baddest man on the planet this Saturday night – will he deliver when it matters most?
Golden boy Gane
It may have come as a surprise to most – including Ciryl Gane himself – when the UFC ordered the Frenchman to fight for a version of the world title that did not put him on a collision course with Francis Ngannou.
Instead, it was Derrick Lewis for the interim belt last year at UFC 265 but Gane stepped up with the ease of a man who knew it would not be the final stop on his ascent through the heavyweight ranks.
The 31-year-old controlled two-time title challenger Lewis with ease throughout the contest, staying patient until delivering a decisive third-round knockout in front of Lewis’ home crowd in Houston, Texas.
Now unbeaten in all 10 of his pro fights, including seven in the UFC, Gane has the chance to unify the heavyweight division against one of the scariest men on the planet.
But Ngannou is someone that Gane knows well having trained for countless hours alongside a man once his team-mate at the MMA Factory gym in Paris.
An acrimonious split some years ago saw Ngannou depart the French facility in favour of a move to Las Vegas and the tensions of that divorce have inevitably resurfaced during the build-up to UFC 270.
I wouldn't be surprised if we see Ciryl Gane by a late stoppage
- Dan Hardy
Ngannou accused Gane and MMA Factory coach Ferland Lopez of playing mind games by leaking old sparring footage of the pair in which the interim champion appears to get the better of the 35-year-old.
Regardless, many believe the real fight could play out in similar fashion – including BT Sport analyst Dan Hardy.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we see Ciryl Gane by a late stoppage,” Hardy explained to Submission Radio this week.
“I think he's going to be able to frustrate Francis early. I think the first 90 seconds is an absolute coin toss.
“That's the time in which Francis could close him down and knock him out pretty quickly but as soon as that point passes, I think it immediately starts to lean towards Ciryl.
“And I think he's going to be smart enough to know that and stay out of the way of the power."
Will we see the emergence of a new heavyweight ruler at UFC 270?
You don’t have to cast your mind back too long ago to remember a time when it seemed as though the flyweight division was doomed for closure.
Rumours were rife that UFC boss Dana White was giving serious consideration to the idea of doing away with the 125lb scene altogether following a gradual decline in fans’ interest in the promotion’s lightest men’s weight category.
In spite of this – or perhaps because of it – the division has been alive ever since with incredible championship contests featuring the likes of Henry Cejudo, and UFC 270 rivals Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno, breathing life back into the flyweight landscape.
This will be the third meeting between the two men, having shared two epic battles over the past 13 months, drawing the first at UFC 256 before Moreno snatched the belt from Figueiredo at UFC 263.
In doing so, the popular Moreno, nicknamed ‘The Assassin Baby’, became the UFC’s first ever Mexican-born champion – and the 28-year-old pocketed a tasty performance bonus for his handiwork too, capping a brilliant night for TUF alumni.
But Figueiredo will not go away easily and the man nicknamed ‘The God of War’ returns with ambitions of closing out the trilogy by returning the belt to his native Brazil.
“You know, my second fight [with Moreno] I was not good. I did not feel good. But now, with new training, I’m gonna be great,” Figueiredo told The Schmo in the build-up to UFC 270.
“This fight is going to be a wonderful fight. I’m very motivated… It’s gonna be the revenge, it’s gonna be big revenge… I’m gonna take his head off and I’m gonna make him pay.”
Despite the chilling threats of retribution, the bookmakers fancy Moreno to make it a double over the 34-year-old as he looks to carve out a legacy as only the fourth UFC flyweight champion ever.
Repeat or revenge? Check it out at UFC 270.
Michel Pereira – UFC's born entertainer
Brazilian welterweight Michel Pereira returns to action this weekend with a reputation as one of the most unpredictable and inimitable fighters on the roster.
Mixing athletic flips and kicks from his background in capoeira with full-blooded - almost reckless - charges forwards, the 28-year-old is guaranteed entertainment in the Octagon.
He had been scheduled to fight against fellow ranked 170lber Muslim Salikhov last weekend but when Salikhov withdrew from the contest, he was moved to the UFC main card against a late replacement, Portugal’s Andre Fialho.
Fighting for the first time since July, Pereira has assembled a decent three-fight win streak and will be eyeing a big name later in 2022 should he triumph once again on Saturday night.
Watch every round from UFC 270 on BT Sport 2HD from 1am on Saturday night!