UFC 265: Ciryl Gane dominates Derrick Lewis to win interim heavyweight title as Francis Ngannou awaits

France has its first UFC title-holder after Gane finished Lewis in the third round of the main event

<p>New interim UFC heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane</p>

New interim UFC heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane

Ciryl Gane dominated Derrick Lewis before stopping the American in the third round at UFC 265 to claim the interim heavyweight title.

In winning the main event, Gane became France's first-ever UFC champion and set up a unification bout with undisputed title-holder Francis Ngannou.

The undefeated Gane (10-0) has been hailed by many as a new breed of heavyweight in mixed martial arts, the 6ft 4in fighter moving with the speed of a much lither man and demonstrating dynamism and technical abilities not often associated with his division.

Those skills were on display again on Saturday night as Gane outfought and outthought Lewis (25-8, 1 no contest) in Texas’s Toyota Centre – where Louisianian Lewis was the crowd favourite, in part due to his residency in the state.

Before putting together the five-fight streak of early knockouts that culminated in Ngannou becoming heavyweight champion this March, the Cameroonian lost to Lewis via decision in a bout in which Ngannou looked shockingly timid.

Lewis’s devastating knockout power was the predominant reason for Ngannou's hesitancy – despite the vicious punching of “The Predator” – but Gane showed no such fear here.

Gane was never likely to take unnecessary risks against Lewis, but even so, the 31-year-old was able to avoid being unnecessarily cautious at UFC 265.

Intelligent pressure was the game for Gane, who stung his opponent badly with jabs and damaged Lewis’s leg to the point of near immobility in the third round.

Ciryl Gane (right) finished Derrick Lewis in the third round

Gane then floored Lewis with a series of powerful uppercuts from behind as the languid American shelled up, before finishing the downed 36-year-old – who was competing in his second UFC title fight – with hammer fists from above.

France only legalised MMA last year, and as such there is great significance in the nation crowning a champion – even of the interim variety – in the sport's flagship promotion.

Next up for Gane is a unification bout with former teammate Ngannou (19-3).

There has been some feeling that Ngannou – since winning the undisputed title from consensus heavyweight Goat Stipe Miocic – could dominate a division so often characterised by volatility and instability, becoming a crossover star in the process.

But Gane has been creeping up in the background and presents a serious threat to that narrative.

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