This weekend’s main event is a clash between two dangerous heavyweight fighters, Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane.
The interim UFC Heavyweight Championship will be up for grabs this Saturday night at UFC 265 when Lewis and Gane step into the cage at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, United States. Fight fans can purchase the PPV here and watch UFC 265 live on
Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane predictions
Derrick Lewis is a veteran of 21 fights inside the UFC, a much larger number than Ciryl Gane’s six. Over those 21 fights, a recurring strategy has become evident, although the way in which he executes it has evolved. That plan is to find the right hand, whether it’s the overhand, the hook, or the uppercut.
Every other aspect of Lewis’ game has the purpose of directing his opponent into the path of his right hand. You will often see Lewis throw arcing shots, like his left hook and his skipping left roundhouse. By using wide left strikes, it forces his opponents to move right into his power.
Lewis will for the most part come out aggressive, charge forward and look to demonstrate his power early, however when that doesn’t work he will lay off completely, rarely working in between on the spectrum. Sometimes his choice to burst forward too aggressively ends up with him in the clinch and he can stuff his own boxing by closing the distance. When this happens, especially if his opponents also begin tagging him on the way in, he will lay back instead.
I would never believe that a fighter loses moments in the octagon on purpose, but by taking his foot off the gas and allowing his opponents to pick up momentum, Lewis has more than once taken advantage of overconfidence. He will neglect to stand his ground in order to let his opponents continually step forward and look for a moment of complacency to test his right hand once again. More than almost any other fighter, Lewis has found success leaning on his power when he finds his back against the wall.
Gane on the other hand is far less predictable. He’s not a fighter who often takes risks and will happily outpoint his foes from a step further away utilizing his athletic footwork. It’s rare a talent like him pops up in the heavyweight division where mass typically dictates many styles.
Gane mostly works out of the orthodox stance but doesn’t shy from switching it up. One of his best set ups is how he will throw the left kick from the southpaw stance, even to his opponent’s guard. By doing so, he allows his opponent to make the read, and he uses that to feint the kick the next time to hide his step through stance change where he’ll blast the power straight from orthodox.
From the outside, Gane favors his jab, which he will snap out there, but not commit completely. He will shoot it from lower than your average guard to hide it, but he is also always moving something, whether it’s feinting with the shoulder or knee to hide any strike he chooses. He is light on the feet but also has a short jerky style to his movement which leaves his opponent tense and unable to decipher when it’s safe to close the gap. This allows him to work comfortably pointing his way to victory.
Ultimately, to bet on this fight is to bet on if Lewis’ shot will put Gane out. With Gane’s superior footwork I don’t see Lewis being able to bridge the gap as often as he would like, and Gane has shown the discipline in the past, needed to stick to the long game. I think we will likely see Gane pick Lewis apart from the outside, and minimize Lewis’ opportunities but as dangerous as always, he needs very few of them.
Prediction: Ciryl Gane via decision
Gane represents a new age of heavyweights. Old-school heavyweights were large, powerful, and dangerous; but, often, slow, unrefined, and one-dimensional. Gane is a technical, intelligent, and manicured fighter with a kickboxing and grappling background. Because of his impressive skillset, Gane has been the chosen heavyweight for a while. His reputation proceeded him in the UFC; and, he has delivered. “Bon Gamin” has parlayed his potential into a 9-0 record and an interim title fight.
Sometimes criticized for his killer instinct, Gane is comfortable taking his time, reading his opponent, and strategically selecting his strikes. This slower approach not only maximizes his efficiency; but, also makes him more difficult to hit cleanly because he is able to fluidly move in and out of range with a variety of kickboxing attacks that rarely leave him vulnerable. His approach may have not earned him the fanfare he’s hoped for; but, it has awarded him success.
Lewis is more akin to the old-school heavyweight. He is large, powerful, and one-dimensional but that one dimension, devastating power, has led him to a 25-7 record and immense fanfare. His fights often end in the blink of an eye and his post-fight interviews are legendary. With 20 KO/TKO victories and 4 KO/TKO losses on his record, his path to that victory and a viral interview is simple— knock him out before he knocks me out. Fighting with more aggression and power than technique, Lewis waits for an opportunity, rushes forward, and lands a single shot or flurry of shots that leave his opponent out cold. In his last fight, against Curtis Blaydes, Lewis landed a total of seven strikes in 6:30 minutes. But, those seven strikes were all he needed to win.
Lewis, despite his reputation, is not a rock’em-sock’em robot. He is more refined than many, myself included give him credit for; however, that refinement does not always manifest in the cage. He is on a four-fight win streak; but, prior to that faced back-to-back losses. That streaky style is a microcosm of how Lewis can be in the cage – one moment losing terribly and the next, he’s winning. Gane represents more consistency, you know what you’re going to get— a kickboxing master class with submission threatening grappling mixed in.
Lewis always has the potential to land a shot that knocks his foe out for good; and, with Gane likely taking his time, Lewis should have several opportunities to land that shot. However, Gane is too fluid, methodical, and technical for me to see Lewis landing that shot he needs to win. I see Gane fighting a similar fight to his fight against Rozenstruik – pushing forward so Lewis has to fight off his back foot. Then, when Lewis lunges forward, Gane will step out of the pocket and land. Rinse and repeat. In a heavyweight fight, a finish is always possible; but, with Gane’s patience, it’s hard to predict. Instead, I’ll likely include Gane in a few parlays.
Prediction: Ciryl Gane to win
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.