UFC 265 does not appear to be an especially lineup of fights. There may be some surprises, but the card looks to be a rushed assembly of mediocre match-ups. It’s headlined by a heavyweight clash between the always entertaining brawler Derrick Lewis and the technically sound but often dull Cyril Gane for an interim title.
Why the UFC top brass has anyone fighting for an interim title is a complete mystery when the legit heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou is perfectly fit and not refusing fights. Ngannou was hoping to fight Jon Jones in a big-money showdown, Jones was demanding Conor McGregor sized remuneration, negotiations stalled, and we are now faced with a somewhat illegitimate contest.
Cyril Gane is the short-priced favourite for the encounter and looks to have vastly superior skills. But Lewis is a huge man with one punch knockout power, and any bets on Gane should be hedged with small bets on Lewis to prevail via stoppage. Lewis is no chance to win via points because he is a power striker lacking in stamina, while Gane has the skills to last 25 minutes. The paradox of heavyweight fights is that they can either be exciting, in which case they last a few seconds, or they can be long and tedious affairs consisting of large, sweaty, exhausted men leaning all over each other and the walls of the cage for support.
Gane has flown somewhat under the radar but has put together an impressive winning streak. He is a technical kickboxer who carefully paces his output to ensure he does not run out of gas mid-fight. His path to victory is obvious – avoid the Lewis haymakers, keep the fight standing, pick his spots, and wait for the openings to present. The AMG team was all set to unload some sizable wagers, but the short odds are just not that enticing.
The rest of the UFC 265 card is largely uninspiring. Jose Aldo vs Pedro Munhoz might be watchable. Michael Chiesa appears good value against Vicente Luque in a fight bookies have at coin-flip odds. And the lineup tails off significantly after that. Some lesser known fighters are bound to seize their opportunity and put on a decent show, but the event does not appear to be compulsive viewing.
Hopefully, Francis Ngannou can re-enter the heavyweight fray sooner rather than later, whether against the winner of the UFC 265 main event or against Jon Jones in a fight that the public is eager to see.
Stay safe fight fans. We are living through crazy times. Get your joy where you can.
Jackson Byrne – Combat Sports Editor