In the week after Gane’s main event victory over Russia’s Alexander Volkov it was announced that plans to book Francis Ngannou‘s first title defense against Lewis had been scrapped. Rather than wait until the Cameroonian was available, which according to his manager would have been September, the UFC instead opted to book “The Black Beast” in an interim title fight against Gane at UFC 265.
But despite the intriguing heavyweight contest adding to an already-exciting looking pay-per-view card, the decision to introduce an interim belt just four months after Francis Ngannou was crowned champion has drawn criticism.
In an interview with MMA Junkie’s John Morgan, Dana White hit back, insisting there’s no issue with the introduction of the belt and the winner can fight “The Predator” when he’s ready.
“I put on fights every Saturday. You want to fight? I got fights for you,” White said. “If you don’t want to fight, no problem. You don’t have to fight. So what we got now is we actually have the guy who beat Francis Ngannou taking on the undefeated up-and-comer in Houston for the interim title. And whoever wins, they can fight Francis when it’s time.”
When asked whether the interim strap devalues the heavyweight title, White stated that it does the opposite, and will actually make the eventual bout for the undisputed championship even bigger. White also reminded everyone that he’s been booking fights and running the UFC for two decades.
“No, if anything, this will make the title fight even bigger when these guys fight. It’ll be champion vs. champion. And if Derrick Lewis wins, Derrick Lewis is the guy who beat him. Ciryl Gane has never fought him, and he’s undefeated, which means if he beats Derrick Lewis, the guy who beat Francis Ngannou, and he’s still undefeated going in against Francis Ngannou, that’s pretty fucking exciting. So why doesn’t everybody just shut the fuck up and let me do what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years?”
White added that the UFC holds events and fights every Saturday, and if someone wanted to fight, they’d be booked to.
“If you want to fight, I got fights every Saturday. If you don’t want to fight, no problem. Fly around the world, go on fuckin’ vacations, and do whatever the hell you wanna do, and when you’re ready to fight, we’ll be here.”
For “Bon Gamin,” the chance at gold on August 7 represents the latest step in his rapid rise to the top in the UFC. Since debuting in 2019, Gane has looked impeccable inside the Octagon and has breezed past the likes of Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and, most recently, Volkov.
Alongside Amanda Nunes’ sixth defense of her woman’s bantamweight belt, the interim heavyweight title bout between Gane and Lewis will be the second championship fight on the UFC 265 card. With top contenders like José Aldo, Michael Chiesa, Vicente Luque, and Pedro Munhoz also featuring, the event promises to be an exciting watch throughout.
Who do you think will leave the Toyota Center on August 7 as the new interim heavyweight champ?