UFC 265 Predictions: Bleacher Report Staff Main Card Picks

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IAugust 5, 2021

UFC 265 Predictions: Bleacher Report Staff Main Card Picks

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    UFC 265 goes down this Saturday in Houston, Texas, and all signs point to a big night.

    In the main event, hometown hero Derrick Lewis will take on France's Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title—a trinket created to keep the division moving while undisputed champ Francis Ngannou squabbles with the bigwigs at UFC HQ.

    Gane, an unbeaten muay thai specialist with a grappling game to boot, has become one of the trickiest puzzles in the heavyweight division. Lewis, the most prolific knockout artist in the division's history, will undoubtedly attempt to solve that puzzle in his trademark style—by smashing his fists into it.  

    As if this heavyweight collision weren't alluring enough, the UFC 265 main card is rounded out by four other highly competitive fights.

    In the co-main event, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo will look to make it two in a row at bantamweight against his fellow Brazilian Pedro Munhoz, a long-time contender. 

    That fight will be preceded by a dynamite welterweight scrap between rising talents Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque, a strawweight rematch between evergreen contenders Tecia Torres and Angela Hill, and a bantamweight battle between fringe contenders Song Yadong and Casey Kenney.

    When all is said and done, UFC 265 likely won't go down as an all-time great event, but it's still a great card highlighted by some truly excellent matchmaking.

    Who comes out on top in the biggest fights of the night? The staples of the Bleacher Report combat sports team have consulted their crystal balls. Keep scrolling for our predictions.  

Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane

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    Tom Taylor: Making a prediction for this fight seems to come down to whether you favor Lewis' incredible, Octagon-shaking power, or Gane's technical, measured striking.

    I stopped confidently picking against Lewis long ago, but I'm still leaning toward Gane in this one. It probably won't be pretty, but he should be able to outland his hulking rival by enough of a margin to sweep the scorecards and win the make-believe belt the UFC is proffering.

    Gane by unanimous decision


    Scott Harris: On paper Gane is the better fighter here, in all phases. It will be hard for Lewis to touch Gane in any impactful way, with Gane's mastery of range and diverse array of counters keeping the hard-charging Houstonian at bay. But you know what? Sound the upset alarms. Lewis melts the French ice sculpture and gets some gold around his waist.

    Lewis by KO, Rd. 1


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: It's a compelling matchup for an unnecessary belt. Gane has the length and skill to fight from a distance and win, while Lewis can essentially KO a building if he lands the right shot. It's a wonderful quality to have, and it will make this one a must-watch through every minute of every round. Ultimately, though, I think it's Gane who has the better chance to wear his man down for a UD, or, just for kicks, let's say he gets the late stop. 

    Gane by TKO, Rd. 5

Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz

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    Tom Taylor: The rumors of Jose Aldo's decline are greatly exaggerated. He may be a bit slower and a bit less lethal than he was in his prime, but we're talking about one of the best fighters of all time here. Even a stripped back version of Aldo is enough to handle most fighters—and that includes Munhoz.

    It will probably be a close one, and Aldo might be bloody by the time it's done, but he lands more volume with more power en route to a close decision win.

    Aldo by unanimous decision


    Scott Harris: Will it be another vintage Aldo performance Saturday night against a very strong grappler (and ever-improving striker) in Munhoz? It's very close. He's 1-3 in his last four, but when you remember that two of those losses came against current UFC champ Alex Volkanovski and a recent champ in Petr Yan, the streak doesn't look nearly as imposing. Aldo outpoints another one with that trademark efficiency.

    Aldo by unanimous decision


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Seems the selection of a winner on this one comes down to exactly what you think of Aldo circa 2021. I'm apparently not as sold on the veteran ex-champ as my learned colleagues, which means I give Munhoz more than a 50/50 shot to have his hand raised in a close one. 

    Munhoz by split decision

Michael Chiesa vs. Vicente Luque

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    Tom Taylor: On the surface, this looks like a classic grappler vs. striker fight. Chiesa seems to have an edge on the mat, while Luque seems to have an advantage on the feet. Yet it might not be that simple.

    While Chiesa is known for his grappling, he has an unfortunate habit of being submitted—three of his four losses have come in this fashion. Luque, meanwhile, has shown that he's more than capable of ending things on the mat, finishing eight of his pro wins by sub. He's actually won multiple fights with the D'Arce choke, which has foiled Chiesa before.

    Call me misguided, but I think Luque drops and ultimately chokes Chiesa in this one.

    Luque by submission, Rd. 2 


    Scott Harris: I see where Tom is coming from, but I see things from a polar opposite standpoint. I have Luque baiting Chiesa into a standup war Chiesa simply can't win. Chiesa is prone to gambling on the ground. He'll try it here and pay dearly for it.

    Luque by TKO, Rd. 1 


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: I'm on Team Scott for this one. Though Luque has chased submissions and Chiesa has been a captured quarry in the past, I see this one staying primarily on the feet, which isn't good news for Chiesa. Luque dishes it out and Chiesa takes it until he can't take any more. 

    Luque by TKO, Rd. 3

Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill 2

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    Tom Taylor: The first time Torres and Hill fought, the former walked away with a unanimous-decision win. I think this matchup goes the distance the second time around too, but with a different outcome. 

    Hill, who remains one of the most effective strikers at strawweight, should be able to land enough—while staying out of trouble on the ground—to get the nod.

    Hill by unanimous decision


    Scott Harris: The perpetually entertaining Hill is going to be an excellent broadcaster someday. Until then, Torres' power and wrestling will keep her under wraps. Hill has always struggled against top competition and opponents who don't give her space in which to operate. Torres is both.

    Torres by unanimous decision 


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: I like Hill. I think she's good for the sport in every conceivable way. But I also don't see her on that highest of high levels. It's not that Torres will be wearing a belt any time soon, but I do think her strengths will be enough to counter Hill's. 

    Torres by unanimous decision

Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong

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    Tom Taylor: It wasn't all that long ago that Yadong looked like he might be a future title contender. After a series of close wins and a decisive loss to Kyler Phillips, however, the hype has definitely diminished. I think the Chinese fighter's title hopes take another hit here. Kenney, who recently battled bantamweight legend Dominick Cruz to a split decision loss, should be able to win most phases of this fight and kickstart a decision-heavy card with one of his own.

    Kenney by unanimous decision


    Scott Harris: Yikes. After Amanda Nunes fell off the card, we weren't left with a whole heck of a lot. If you're curious about these two, their combined record over their last six bouts is 3-2-1, with both coming off a loss. Yadong is a Team Alpha Male product with knockout power, while Kenney is mainly a submission grappler. Kenney has a bit more momentum lately, so we'll call his name.

    Kenney by unanimous decision


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: It's true. Doesn't seem that long ago that Yadong had a lot of wind in his sails, but going just 1-1-1 in his last three hasn't helped. Kenney, meanwhile, is only 3-2 in his own last five, but it feels like his losses have come against a higher caliber of opponent. It's a semantic coin flip that I'll call for Kenney.

    Kenney by unanimous decision