Monday, May 23, 2022

UFC 265: Lewis vs. Gane Staff Predictions

Two days out from UFC 265, four of our staff members have provided their picks for the event’s main card!

In the main event, we will see an interim heavyweight champion crowned when Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis takes on Ciryl Gane in the main event. Both are coming into this fight with major momentum, but for one of these two big men, that will change by night’s end.

The co-main event will feature the legendary José Aldo back in action when he faces #9-ranked Pedro Munhoz. Also on the main card will be a battle between top-10 welterweights Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque. You can check out the full main card for the event below!

UFC 265: Lewis vs. Gane Main Card

  • UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship Bout: Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane
  • José Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz
  • Michael Chiesa vs. Vicente Luque
  • Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill
  • Song Yadong vs. Casey Kenney

UFC 265: Lewis vs. Gane Staff Predictions

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 265 updates. Staff members Andrew Ravens, Ed Carbajal, Doug Murray, and Harvey Leonard have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong
Casey Kenney, Song Yadong

Andrew Ravens: This is an exceptional fight between two tough fighters that have a lot of upside. Both are coming off a loss, but their records back up the fact that they’re the real deal. A real pick ’em here, but I’ll side with Kenney, as I think he has a brighter future. (Prediction: Casey Kenney)

Ed Carbajal: Both men are coming off of losses so opening up the main card, they will likely come out swinging. If that does happen, Yadong could benefit from it.  However, most of Kenney’s wins come by way of decision, so he can likely take it. Still, who doesn’t love a finisher? I still remember Yadong’s knockout over Alejandro Perez at UFC 239, so I’m leaning towards him winning. (Prediction: Song Yadong)

Doug Murray: While many thought Yadong’s win over Marlon Vera was controversial, it did highlight his toughness and willingness to stick to a game plan. Kenney’s loss to Dominick Cruz showed that sometimes when a fast pace is put on, he struggles to maintain activity. Yadong’s potential as a Team Alpha Male product is sky-high with a coach like Uriah Faber.

I do think Kenney’s toughness will see him through the finishing bell; however, I believe Yadong will get the win here by unanimous decision. (Prediction: Song Yadong)

Harvey Leonard: Despite perhaps not being an obvious striker vs. grappler bout, it’s clear both are stronger than their opponent in differing facets. Yadong is one of the most explosive men in the division and will have the power and speed advantage on Saturday. If he can increase his use of leg kicks to restrict Kenney’s movement at distance, I believe he’ll stand a better chance at landing some of his vicious counters and will be able to outpoint the American on the feet.

If Kenney can interrupt Yadong’s striking rhythm with clinches and takedowns, he stands a good chance. But the 23-year-old has shown he can hold his own in grappling exchanges, and I lean towards him being able to avoid Kenney’s efforts to affect his game plan. (Prediction: Song Yadong)

Consensus: 3-1 Yadong

Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill

Tecia Torres, Angela Hill

Andrew Ravens: These fighters find themselves in similar situations, as they had been on a winning streak then went on bitter cold losing streaks only to rebound with wins. Both are some of the best fighters in the division, which should make for a good scrap. I’ll side with Hill, who I think will take the first two rounds. (Prediction: Angela Hill)

Ed Carbajal: These two strawweights are familiar with one another since they fought at UFC 188. That was in 2015, and if I had to say which fighter has shown more evolution, it would have to be Hill. Since their first meeting, Hill left the UFC to work on herself at Invicta FC, where she became a champion and earned her way back into the UFC. She’s fought a few wars since and is likely looking to erase the 2015 loss at UFC 265. (Prediction: Angela Hill)

Doug Murray: A rematch in the making since 2015. Any time Hill fights, it’s always interesting to see how she evolves her stand-up game. Just like their previous encounter, I think this is a bad style match-up for Hill. Torres has a unique ability to mesh her striking and grappling together. Even though Torres doesn’t go for takedowns often, the veteran is accustomed to impressing the judges on the scorecards. (Prediction: Tecia Torres)

Harvey Leonard: Although I see the majority of the fight taking place on the feet, Torres may choose to initiate grappling to prevent Hill from using her reach advantage to maintain distance. In terms of striking, whilst the 36-year-old may throw at a higher volume, “The Tiny Tornado” may be the more accurate woman and could end up using her speed to land more in each exchange.

With both often going the distance, stamina shouldn’t be an issue, and the victor will be whoever can implement their game plan the best on the night. Given her previous experience overcoming an opponent’s reach advantage and having overcome Hill’s advantage in their first meeting, I back Torres to edge a tight fight. (Prediction: Tecia Torres)

Consensus: 2-2 Pick ‘Em

Michael Chiesa vs. Vicente Luque

Vicente Luque (Image Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC), Michael Chiesa (Image Credit: Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News)

Andrew Ravens: This is the people’s main event. Honestly, I’m surprised it’s not the co-main event. Chiesa rolls in on a four-fight winning streak while Luque is on a three-fight winning streak. I just see Chiesa as a better overall fighter who will edge out Luque in a split-decision victory. (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

Ed Carbajal: This fight is my personal “Fight of the Night” contender, at least for the main card. Both men are riding win streaks; and when it comes to scrambles, they are fun to watch. The grappling might cancel out the ground in this fight, as both men are formidable there. The edge could lie in the striking, where Luque has the edge. Still, Chiesa’s analyst work has made him a more cerebral fighter, so he could pull off a decision. (Prediction: Michael Chiesa)

Doug Murray: My low-key Fight of the Night. Luque is arguably coming off the biggest win of his career when he put on an absolute clinic against Tyron Woodley. The well-rounded approach of Luque is a perplexing weapon. Overall, the Brazilian is the epitome of an opportunistic fighter, and when he sees an opening, he goes for the finish. While Chiesa takes the grappling, I see the striking of Luque making the difference here. (Prediction: Vicente Luque)

Harvey Leonard: This one is incredibly close. As usual, Chiesa will look to initiate grappling whenever the opportunity presents itself. While “Maverick” has a strong defensive game and is capable of doing some damage on the feet, Luque clearly has the striking advantage. And in the unlikely event the fight remains on the feet (he even admitted to MMA News that he’ll be taken down eventually), he wins.

The question is: Can he be competitive on the ground? Given his Brazilian jiu-jitsu credentials and submission victories in the past, that answer should be yes. Luque is much more dangerous from his back than the likes of Neil Magny and poses a submission threat that will force Chiesa into difficult positions. While Luque has a clear advantage on the feet, I don’t think Chiesa’s advantage in his wheelhouse is quite as big. (Prediction: Vicente Luque)

Consensus: 2-2 Pick ‘Em

José Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz
José Aldo, Pedro Munhoz

Andrew Ravens: Here’s a toss-up fight. It really comes down to which fighter shows up in the right mindset. Aldo has certainly fallen from grace, but he’s still one of the best fighters in the world. Munhoz is a challenge to side with, as the fights you’d think he’d win he’ll lose and vice versa. I’ll side with Aldo getting it done in 15 minutes. (Prediction: José Aldo)

Ed Carbajal: Both men are the same age, but because of Aldo’s experience, he seems like the older fighter. Aldo’s experience could be an advantage or a disadvantage, as fighting is never kind to the athletes that do it as long as he has. He could get an early finish, but it’s hard to pick him here. (Prediction: Pedro Munhoz)

Doug Murray: The legend Aldo is back after beating Vera in a unanimous decision earlier this year. The former featherweight champ continues to defy the odds and has established himself as a legitimate 135er. Both fighters love to keep a furious pace, and this fight should deliver violence wholesale. Since each fighter utilizes leg kicks often, it seems like this fight won’t go the distance. I believe Aldo’s shot selection will secure him the victory, even if it comes at a painful cost. (Prediction: José Aldo)

Harvey Leonard: Munhoz is a powerful striker and has impressive stamina and conditioning, which was on full display when he came close to matching the output of Frankie Edgar. Against a fighter who has historically started fast and slowed down late, the key for Munhoz is managing Aldo’s early bursts and finishing strong. Perhaps if this was a five-round fight, I’d back “The Young Punisher.”

But across 15 minutes, I think Aldo has the better chance of inflicting more damage and landing the more meaningful strikes. With fairly matching styles, the pair could find themselves exchanging in similar areas. I think for the majority of the fight, Aldo will benefit the most from that. Munhoz has also shown a tendency to stand in front of heavy hitters, as we saw when he faced Cody Garbrandt. He’s unlikely to come out unscathed if he does that against Aldo. (Prediction: José Aldo)

Consensus: 3-1 Aldo

Ciryl Gane vs. Derrick Lewis

Ciryl Gane, Derrick Lewis
Ciryl Gane, Derrick Lewis

Andrew Ravens:  I think Gane can give Lewis a challenge if he fights the way that has gotten him to this point. However, I think the downside of Gane is his experience, and that is one of Lewis’ advantages. Gane will likely control the majority of the fight but will tire out, then Lewis catches him in the third or fourth round to get the TKO win. (Prediction: Derrick Lewis)

Ed Carbajal: This fight could either be over soon or go the distance, depending on which Lewis we see compete. Since the event is in Houston, I expect a very game Lewis to show up. He obviously poses the power to end the fight quickly, but Gane might have what it takes to work all of Lewis’ weaknesses. That along with his height and reach advantage might be the edge Gane has to win. But you never know when a hometown advantage is in play. (Prediction: Ciryl Gane)

Doug Murray: The interim heavyweight title is on the line, and Gane is pushing -300 on many sporting books. The most revealing fight we can extrapolate from is when they both took on Alexander Volkov.

On one hand, “The Black Beast” struggled until securing a late buzzer-beater knockout. Then, when Gane fought the 6”7” Russian, it seemed like he hardly broke a sweat. In addition, Gane’s fight against Volkov provided fans with a firm grasp on his skills and how he approaches five-round fights. The Frenchman’s ability to stick to a game plan will be the reason he gets his hand raised this Saturday. (Prediction: Ciryl Gane)

Harvey Leonard: It’s difficult to bet against a heavyweight with the one-punch knockout power of Derrick Lewis. But against Ciryl Gane, he may struggle. Gane’s unique heavyweight style has seen him neutralize the threat heavy hitters like Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov pose.

With his ability to dictate the pace of his fights and his tendency to control his opponent’s movement, I find it hard to picture Lewis being able to land the KO blow we’ve often seen him pull out, especially considering “Bon Gamin” is unlikely to recklessly engage or change levels like Curtis Blaydes did.

The question then is: Can Lewis outpoint Gane? At the moment, I’m not sure there’s any heavyweight other than Stipe Miocic that would be capable of doing that. (Prediction: Ciryl Gane)

Consensus: 3-1 Gane

UFC 265 Undercard

Preliminary Card

  • Bobby Green vs. Rafael Fiziev
  • Vince Morales vs. Drako Rodriguez
  • Alonzo Menifield vs. Ed Herman
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne

Early Preliminary Card

  • Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne
  • Miles Johns vs. Anderson Dos Santos
  • Victoria Leonardo vs. Melissa Gatto
  • Johnny Munoz vs. Jamey Simmons
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