What a card!
UFC 265 may not have been a mega-event but it still figured to be an entertaining show on paper, and it certainly delivered. We have a new interim heavyweight champion and unsurprisingly it’s Ciryl Gane. Derrick Lewis really didn’t have much of a chance and this was a predictable beatdown. Lewis tried to survive and throw back while hurt, but Gane was just far too skilled and scored the third-round TKO with a barrage of strikes that hurt Lewis every which way from leg to body to head.
Gane methodically picked ‘The Black Beast’ apart with crushing low kicks, jabbed his left eye apart, and in the clinch the otherwise strong Lewis was outmuscled. The only chance Lewis ever had to win this fight was his usual comeback KO but it didn’t materialize, much to the disappointment of the home fans in Houston. Hey, we still love ya, Derrick!
You may not find the Frenchman to be exhilarating to watch, but you cannot help but be impressed by Gane’s development in just three years as a professional MMA fighter. Just in 2021 he has beaten Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Alexander Volkov, and now Derrick Lewis. And he’s scarcely been challenged.
So now with this silly interim belt out of the way, here’s to seeing Francis Ngannou vs. Gane next. Maybe. It’s clearly a better fight than Ngannou vs. Lewis 2 and I cannot wait to see it happen.
More thoughts below:
- Jose Aldo has still got it. He put on a boxing clinic against fellow Brazilian Pedro Munhoz on his way to a unanimous decision victory. We even got some vintage leg kicking Aldo and he buckled Munhoz a couple of times with those strikes. His body shots were lethal and his stinging jab really had Pedro outgunned for a majority of the contest. Munhoz tagged Aldo a few times but also threw far too many spinning kicks — they all missed — and didn’t have any answers for the speed, timing, and range control of the former featherweight champion. He’s 2-2 at bantamweight and could arguably be 3-1 given the Marlon Moraes fight was a disputed decision. Recognize this man as an all-time great who is still giving you great performances inside the Octagon.
- D’ARCE! That is my favorite submission bar none and Vicente Luque is the master of it. Michael Chiesa looked like he had Luque in trouble with a rear-naked choke, then a neck crank, then he went for an armbar, but Luque survived all of those attempts. In the blink of an eye, Luque scrambled to front headlock and sunk in the d’arce choke and Chiesa tapped. That was an insane sequence and you have to first credit Luque for surviving Chiesa’s dangerous grappling and then turning the tables on him in an instant. This man is a serious threat to finish a fight wherever it takes place and he remains a viable contender at 170 lbs by handing Chiesa his first L in the weight class.
- Angela Hill looked pretty damn good in her rematch with Tecia Torres. Unfortunately for her, Torres looked great, and ‘The Tiny Tornado’ is now 2-0 versus ‘Overkill’ after another unanimous decision win. Torres was just too fast and too accurate with her strikes, especially those body kicks. Hill had plenty of good offensive moments and capitalized on a slip from Tecia to get full mount in the closing seconds of round two, but she was just outclassed by a resurgent Torres, who has won three straight after a previous four-fight losing skid. She’s never had a title shot in her career, but she’s making a push now in a stacked strawweight division.
- Song Yadong got back in the win column with a composed, impressive display against Casey Kenney. I do not understand Kerry Hatley’s scorecard in Kenney’s favor but Song was the rightful winner. His body work slowed Kenney down and even though Casey pressured a lot, he rarely put himself in position to hit Song cleanly and . Perhaps most importantly, Song stuffed almost all of Kenney’s takedowns (except the last one which meant nothing) and thus avoided Casey’s world of tons of scrambles on the mat. Great showing by the Chinese bantamweight after a disappointing outing versus Kyler Phillips.
- HELL YEAH! As expected, lightweights Rafael Fiziev and Bobby Green put on a show for the fans to savor. High-level striking mixed in with a lot of mid-fight trash talking? Fiziev landed the more powerful shots and hurt Green in the second, but Green really poured it on in the third with solid counters and a ripping jab. The one judge who had if 30-27 Fiziev is being ridiculous, as Green clearly took the third but otherwise Fiziev was the rightful winner. Screw it, run that fight back and make it five rounds because it was that entertaining.
- One thing is for sure: it is almost impossible to have an easy fight against Bobby Green. That Dustin Poirier knocked him out in a round makes that win look even better all these years later.
- In really the only forgettable fight on the card, Vince Morales had the more effective offense on his way to a unanimous decision over Drako Rodriguez. Not a lot of action in this one but no doubt Morales deserved the nod in the battle of Dana White’s Contender Series alums.
- Alonzo Menifield usually wins in a round, but he went the full 15 minutes against the 40-year-old Ed Herman to take a shutout decision. Herman’s left calf was horrendously swollen and Menifield had him in all sorts of trouble in round two, but Ed still has that ridiculous toughness to survive. That’s two straight wins for Menifield after dropping two in a row.
- For god knows what reason, Karolina Kowalkiewicz was way to willing to grapple with Jessica Penne. It went poorly and she got armbarred towards the end of round one. It’s a fifth straight loss for Kowalkiewicz, which is astonishing when you consider he last win was Rose Namajunas. As for Penne, she missed four years of fighting due to a USADA suspension and injuries, but now she’s got two straight wins and remains a relevant strawweight at the age of 38.
- Manel Kape finally got his first UFC win in spectacular fashion, knocking out Ode Osbourne with a flying knee towards the end of a round one he might have been losing. Was the stoppage a bit early? I don’t think so and it was an understandable split-second call. The only downside for the former RIZIN champ is that he badly missed the flyweight limit, so no post-fight bonus for him despite demanding one.
- Miles Johns gave Anderson dos Santos a comprehensive beatdown every which way. He trashed the Brazilian’s lead leg (which was already compromised) in round one, worked the body and head in round two, then used a hook to the body to set up a right hand over the top to get the highlight-reel KO. Two straight KOs for the bantamweight, MMA’s deepest division bar none.
- It wasn’t going well for Victoria Leonardo through two rounds against Melissa Gatto, but the way the fight ended was unfortunate. For the second bout in a row, Leonardo broke her right arm and sure enough the doctor called it before the final round could begin. Take nothing away from Gatto though, as she looked sharp on the feet and on the ground in her heavily delayed UFC debut and her first fight since 2018.
- Johnny Munoz got the night started with a slick rear-naked choke finish of Jamey Simmons. Munoz took Simmons down in round two and once he had Simmons’ back it was a wrap. He didn’t get the choke the first time but the second time proved successful.
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