This Saturday, Aug. 7, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Houston, Texas for the second time this year.
The UFC 265 news cycle got off to a controversial start as heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was effectively stripped of his title shortly after capturing the belt with a knockout of Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March of 2021. Ngannou was willing to defend his title, but told the UFC that he couldn’t be ready to fight by Aug. 7, but could be ready by UFC 266 on Sept. 25. This set up an interim heavyweight title matchup between Derrick Lewis and the undefeated 9-0 Ciryl Gane. The interim title bout could prove to be a smart decision by the UFC, as it will provide clarity in the talent-heavy division.
As Derrick Lewis steps into the cage Saturday night in the Toyota Center, the title bout should feel like a home game for the Houston native. Despite holding the UFC heavyweight record for knockouts, with 20, the matchup with Gane is not a favorable one for Lewis. Gane holds the advantage in the striking department, landing 5.13 significant strikes per minute compared to Lewis’s 2.59. In terms of accuracy, Gane also has the slight edge with a significant strike accuracy of 54.6 percent compared to Lewis’ 52.44. In an ESPN MMA interview, Gane implied that he has the advantage in several other areas of the fight, including fight IQ and cardio.
The interim heavyweight title fight will be an absolute slugfest. Look for Gane to use his kicks to try to control the range in the standup. Lewis’ paths to victory include his wrestling advantage as well as his one-punch knockout power. If the fan favorite and hometown kid Lewis gets the belt wrapped around his waist Saturday, the roof on the Toyota Center may explode.
The scheduled co-main event bout between arguably the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, and Julianna Peña for the women’s bantamweight title was canceled due to Amanda Nunes testing positive for COVID-19. The new co-main event will be an intriguing striker versus grappler matchup as former featherweight champion Jose Aldo makes his return to the octagon versus Pedro Munhoz. Aldo is looking to build off a win over Marlon Vera his last time out in December of 2020. Aldo will be looking for his 30th MMA win Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if a win for Aldo comes via knockout, as the Brazilian has 17 knockouts out of his 29 victories. Aldo is known as one of the best technical strikers in the UFC. In contrast, Munhoz would much rather take this fight to the floor as the young punisher has six submission victories and only five knockouts out of his 19 victories. Munhoz will look to put Aldo to sleep and stop his quest for a bantamweight title.
Another grappler versus striker match up on the main card takes place in the welterweight division as Ultimate Fighter Season 15 winner Michael Chiesa takes on Vicente Luque. Chiesa comes in on an impressive four-fight win streak, including wins over UFC legends Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez and Rafael Dos Anjos. Chiesa, a wrestler, does his best work when the fight hits the floor. Eleven of his Chiesa's 18 wins have come by submission. Luque is a well-rounded fighter with both excellent striking and submissions with eleven knockouts and seven submission in twenty victories. Luque boasts a great strength of schedule, including wins over former champion Tyron Woodley, Niko Price and Mike Perry. There are still plenty of questions left to be answered for Luque Saturday night. Will his striking be enough to maintain the distance? Does he have a good enough takedown defense to compete with Chiesa? All questions will be answered under the bright lights of another UFC pay-per-view Saturday night in Houston.
Despite only having only one title fight, this card will provide a lot of excitement for UFC fans as it features many notable names including Angela Hill, Song Yadong, Bobby Green and Rafael Fiziev . The action begins with the early prelims at 6 p.m. on ESPN Plus. Then moves to ESPN 2 for the prelims at 8 p.m. The main card will be available on ESPN plus pay-per-view at 10 p.m.
UFC 265 fight card
Ciryl Gane vs. Derrick Lewis, interim heavyweight championship
Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz , bantamweight
Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa, welterweight
Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill, women's strawweight
Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong, bantamweight
Rafael Fiziev vs. Bobby Green, lightweight
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jessica Penne, women's flyweight
Alonzo Menifield vs. Ed Herman, light heavyweight
Manel Kape vs. Ode Osbourne, flyweight
Melissa Gatto vs. Victoria Leonardo, women's flyweight
Miles Johns vs. Anderson Dos Santos, bantamweights
Drako Rodriguez vs. Vince Morales, bantamweight
Johnny Munoz Jr. vs. Jamey Simmons, bantamweight