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Ciryl Gane punishes Derrick Lewis for TKO win, interim belt at UFC 265

The UFC heavyweight champion — the biggest, baddest fighter on the planet — remains Francis Ngannou, who snatched the crown from Stipe Miocic with a thunderous knockout in March. That wasn’t going to change during UFC 265 on Saturday night at Houston’s Toyota Center.

But with Ciryl Gane’s victory on pay-per-view in an interim title fight — essentially a glossier No. 1 contender bout — at least Ngannou has a more concrete idea of who awaits him when he makes his first title defense.

Gane, of France, earned a third-round TKO victory at the 4:11 mark over Derrick Lewis as the UFC returned to Houston, Lewis’ hometown, for the second time this year.

“I’m happy, but I’m feeling a little bit bad for my man [Lewis] in front of his fans,” Gane told former UFC two-division champion Daniel Cormier in the octagon after the victory, over some muted boos from a disappointed crowd.

The end sequence began about 90 seconds earlier as a Gane uppercut stung Lewis, weary from dozens of leg kicks. Several times before the fight was waived off, Gane had Lewis in full protect mode against the fence.

Gane (10-0, seven finishes) was the aggressor early, keeping Lewis (25-8, 21 finishes) on the outside with the higher volume attack of stiff jabs and leg kicks. He managed to avoid the infrequent bull rushes from the powerful Lewis throughout the first round.

Ciryl Gane
Ciryl Gane
Zuffa LLC

Gane, a former professional Muay Thai competitor before taking up MMA less than four years ago, found further success in the second, keeping Lewis at bay with his length and height advantage. Lewis, 36, struggled again to connect with much of anything as the Frenchman appeared to take another round clearly.

The third was much of the same to start, with the 31-year-old Gane landing more hard kicks to Lewis’ legs. But the athletic Gane connected with big power in the middle of the frame, putting the burly Lewis repeatedly in trouble and even engaging in brief brawling skirmishes before the referee intervened to save a crumpled Lewis.

“Everybody knows already what is my game plan, my man,” Gane said. “I’m like that. I like to move.”

Despite questions as to the need for an interim title bout so soon after the popular Ngannou, who is not injured, won the championship, the matchup earned buzz for the presence of the heavy-hitting Lewis competing in his hometown against one of the most intriguing heavyweight prospects to come along in Gane. He made good on his potential by becoming the first Frenchman to win UFC gold — even if it is the interim variety.

In the bantamweight co-headliner, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (30-7, 18 finishes) put on a vintage performance in earning a unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, against Pedro Munhoz (19-6, 13 finishes).

After a close first frame, Also found his groove later in round two and put on a striking clinic in the third to lock up his second straight win after falling short in a bantamweight title fight last July against Petr Yan.

nypost.com

New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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