HOUSTON — Derrick Lewis, who will headline Saturday’s UFC 265 main event against Ciryl Gane, got his first UFC title shot three years ago against Daniel Cormier. The self-deprecating slugger mocked himself — and his heavyweight peers — ahead of that bout.
“If I’m the champion, the whole UFC division should be ashamed of themselves for a guy that had no damn skills being the champion,” Lewis said at the time. “They should all just go relocate somewhere. … Have you seen my fights? Have you seen my technique?”
Cormier beat Lewis at UFC 230 in November 2018 via second-round submission, but since then, the man who calls himself “The Black Beast” has improved immensely. He has won four straight, and Saturday he’ll get another shot at UFC gold when he fights for the interim heavyweight title at Toyota Center.
The card is built around Lewis, a Houston resident, who combines humor with some of the most frightening knockout power in UFC history. The Lewis vs. Gane winner is expected to be next up for heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou. ESPN has Lewis and Gane ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, at heavyweight.
Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) has the most KO/TKO victories in UFC heavyweight history (12). That mark also puts him in a three-way tie for the most knockouts in any division in the UFC ever, along with Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown. Lewis, 36, is coming off a second-round knockout win over Curtis Blaydes in February.
Gane (9-0) is one of the most promising up-and-coming fighters in all of the UFC. With a victory Saturday, Gane will become the first French-born fighter to win a UFC title. Gane, 31, has been training in MMA for only three years and sports an impressive 6-0 record in the UFC.
In the co-main event, a pair of bantamweight contenders will face off: MMA legend Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz. Aldo (29-7) is the former longtime UFC/WEC featherweight champion. Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC) has won four of his past six bouts. Also on the card, Vicente Luque meets Michael Chiesa in a battle of top welterweights, strawweight contenders Tecia Torres and Angela Hill face off and Casey Kenney takes on Song Yadong in a bout between promising up-and-coming bantamweights.
Follow live as Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto recap the fights from Houston or watch on ESPN+ PPV.
Fight in progess:
Gatto, of São Paulo, Brazil, waited a long time to make her UFC debut, and she did not disappoint in a second-round finish of Leonardo.
Gatto picked up a TKO victory at the end of the second round, when cageside physicians ruled Leonardo, of Louisiana, could not continue due to an injured right arm. The doctor said it was broken. It was not immediately clear how Leonardo suffered the injury, although Gatto had attacked the arm with submissions earlier in the fight, and had thrown body kicks at Leonardo.
Can’t question @VLeo0216‘s toughness 💯
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 7, 2021
It was a long road for Gatto to make it to the Octagon. She was originally scheduled to make her debut in late 2019, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. She had two more fights canceled in 2020 due to various reasons.
Gatto was able to showcase her grappling and striking in the win. She took Leonardo’s back early, although failed to secure a submission finish. She held a clear striking advantage in the second round, popping Leonardo with right hands.
Training at one of the hottest gyms in MMA has clearly done Munoz well.
After spending his training camp with the likes of Brandon Moreno at Entram Gym in Tijuana, Munoz picked up his first UFC win via submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:35 of the second round.
Munoz with that Moreno style
— C H🖕🏽T O🇪🇨V E R A (@chitoveraUFC) August 7, 2021
“When it goes to the ground, nobody has nothing for me down there,” Munoz said.
Munoz got Simmons down to the mat late in the first round, but didn’t have enough time to work there. In the second, though, he took Simmons down just a minute into the frame. From there, Munoz took Simmons’ back, got the hooks in and applied the choke. Simmons had no choice but to tap.
Munoz, 28, lost the first fight of his career in his UFC debut last August against Nate Maness via unanimous decision. The California native is a former King of the Cage bantamweight champion. Simmons, a 28-year-old fighting out of Wisconsin, has dropped two straight and is still looking for his first UFC victory.
Still to come:
Interim heavyweight title fight: Derrick Lewis (25-7 1 NC, 16-5 UFC, +290) vs. Ciryl Gane (9-0, 6-0 UFC, -370)
Men’s bantamweight: Jose Aldo (29-7, 11-6 UFC, -120) vs. Pedro Munhoz (19-5 1 NC, 9-5 1 NC UFC, +100)
Welterweight: Michael Chiesa (18-4, 11-4 UFC, -105) vs. Vicente Luque (20-7-1, 13-3 UFC, -115)
Strawweight: Tecia Torres (12-5, 8-5 UFC, -140) vs. Angela Hill (13-9, 8-9 UFC, +120)
Men’s bantamweight: Song Yadong (16-5-1 1 NC, 5-1-1 UFC, +100) vs. Casey Kenney (16-3-1, 5-2 UFC, -120)
Lightweight: Bobby Green (27-11-1, 8-6-1 UFC, +240) vs. Rafael Fiziev (9-1, 3-1 UFC, -300)
Men’s bantamweight: Vince Morales (9-5, 1-3 UFC, -105) vs. Drako Rodriguez (7-2, 0-1 UFC, -115)
Light heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield (10-2, 3-2 UFC, -240) vs. Ed Herman (27-14 1 NC, 13-10 1 NC UFC, +200)
Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-6, 5-6 UFC, -135) vs. Jessica Penne (13-6, 1-3 UFC, +115)
Men’s flyweight: Manel Kape (15-6, 0-2 UFC, -200) vs. Ode’ Osbourne (9-3, 1-1 UFC, +170)