Report: UFC Exploring Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis Rematch

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2021

Francis Ngannou, left, and Derrick Lewis pose during a news conference for UFC 226, Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Las Vegas. The two are scheduled to fight in a heavyweight mixed martial arts bout Saturday in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

The UFC is reportedly considering Derrick Lewis for Francis Ngannou's first defense of the heavyweight championship.

Ariel Helwani of ESPN reported the promotion has "kicked the tires" on a rematch between the heavyweight stars for June 12, but the timeline does not work for Ngannou. Most expected the champion's first title defense to come against Jon Jones, who has been bulking up for a run in the heavyweight division.

UFC has been unable to come to financial terms with Jones for his next fight.

Helwani noted the fact that UFC President Dana White is considering a fight other than Jones-Ngannou indicates the promotion is open to moving on from the sought-after prizefight.

Lewis defeated Ngannou via unanimous decision at UFC 226 in what was seen as a major upset at the time. Lewis would go on to challenge Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight championship in a losing effort at UFC 230, concluding a 2018 that saw him fight four times, including a span of three fights in five months.

It seems Lewis has learned from overextending himself in 2018, with each of his past five fights carrying at least a three-month layoff. Lewis has reeled off four straight victories to move himself back up the heavyweight rankings. He most recently knocked out Curtis Blaydes at a UFC Fight Night event in February.

Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno look set to headline the UFC 263 pay-per-view set for June 12.