MMA fans collectively did a double-take on Monday when the UFC announced that Gane — not Ngannou — will be facing Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 on August 7. Gane and Lewis will fight for the interim title, only months after Ngannou was crowned divisional champ.
Ngannou’s team were in “complete shock” over the move, which came despite Dana White regularly stating that Ngannou’s first title defense would be a rematch with Lewis.
It’s not the first time “Le Predator” has been a victim of the UFC’s matchmaking decisions. Ngannou was forced to wait for the protracted Miocic-Cormier trilogy to play out before he had a chance to fight for the title.
Now having been snubbed for the Lewis fight, it could be argued the Cameroonian is one of the UFC’s most serially overlooked fighters.
Ciryl Gane Doesn’t Feel Bad For Ngannou, Wants Title Fight in Paris
Gane, who soundly defeated Alexander Volkov to earn his shot at interim gold, isn’t feeling that bad about snatching the Lewis fight from Ngannou, however.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, “Bon Gamin” said that while he understands why his former training partner might be irked by the snub, Ngannou can still bask in the consolation of being heavyweight champ.
“I was a little bit [surprised] because we thought it would be Francis against Derrick Lewis, but Francis wasn’t free for the fight in August so they chose me,” said Ciryl Gane (h/t Mike Heck at MMA Fighting). “I can understand [where Francis is coming from] but [I don’t feel bad for him]. It’s just an interim title, so the champion is still Francis. Not really [feeling bad] for Francis. If I was Francis, this would be nothing for me.”
And if victorious in his interim title bout, Gane is looking forward to the prospect of possibly fighting Ngannou in Paris, where both fighters have their MMA origins.
“Just for the history,” Gane said. “I would prefer [to fight] Francis Ngannou in Paris, [mostly] for the fans.”
What do you think? Was the UFC right to overlook Ngannou by booking Gane Vs Lewis?