Three months after Francis Ngannou was crowned UFC heavyweight champion, an interim heavyweight title has been created.
UFC President Dana White on Monday announced a fight between top contender Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis for the interim belt at UFC 265 on Aug. 7 in Lewis’ home town of Houston. MMA Fighting confirmed that bout agreements are in place for the five-round title fight.
ESPN.com reported Ngannou was not available for the August pay-per-view, prompting the UFC to book an alternative after initially seeking to pair the champ against Lewis in June and then August. Lewis was named the No. 1 contender amid a dispute over pay between the UFC and former light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, who was expected to get an immediate title shot after relinquishing his belt to move up a division.
Ngannou, who will retain his undisputed title that he took from Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, was one of several pros to react to the news of a new belt in the mix. Here’s how pros reacted to the UFC 265 interim title fight between Gane and Lewis.
I remember my interim title fight against Jairzinho .... oh wait— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) June 28, 2021
Wow that’s a swerve I didn’t see coming.... https://t.co/tcsoEGuqkB— Funky (@Benaskren) June 28, 2021
Nothing has been right here https://t.co/SIeM9uEfBG— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) June 28, 2021
Ciryl Gane vs. Derrick Lewis for the interim belt . I knew Gane was going to get something big soon!— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) June 28, 2021
If you only knew half the story… But you see how they’ll do you??— Eric Nicksick (@Eric_XCMMA) June 28, 2021
Making an interim heavyweight title fight makes absolutely no sense— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) June 28, 2021