Cyril Gane and the Real Winners and Losers from UFC 265

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2021

Cyril Gane and the Real Winners and Losers from UFC 265

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Who says 13 is unlucky?

    A baker's dozen bouts were on the bill for the UFC's pay-per-view return to Houston, topped by a compelling heavyweight scrap between KO artist Derrick Lewis and kickboxing ace Ciryl Gane.

    Lewis arrived at the Toyota Center ranked second among contenders to champion Francis Ngannou's throne, while Gane was a slot below at No. 3.

    Ngannou wasn't ready to defend the strap he won from Stipe Miocic in March, prompting UFC czar Dana White to label the bout in Lewis' hometown as an interim title match.

    A sold-out crowd was in house, and the UFC 265 broadcast was carried live to the masses elsewhere by ESPN, with the familiar trio of Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz and Daniel Cormier at the announce table and Megan Olivi working the rest of the room for breaking news and features.

    And as is customary on an MMA Saturday, the B/R combat sports team was in place as well to take it all in and compile the authoritative collection of winners and losers for your perusal. Take a look at what we came up with and follow up by dropping a thought or two of your own in the comments.

Winner: Reaching Elite Status

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    Houston, we have a superstar.

    But to the dismay of the fans at the Toyota Center, it’s not Lewis.

    Instead, it was Gane who dominated the thrown-together title match for each and every minute, strafing his bigger, slower opponent with punches and kicks and bamboozling him with movement.

    Ultimately, it was a hard kick to Lewis’ left leg that rendered him immobile and a follow-up combination of punches that prompted him to turn his back and fall to his knees.

    Gane immediately pounced and unleashed a series of 14 straight right-handed hammer fists before referee Dan Miragliotta finally intervened at 4:11 of Round 3.

    And, truthfully, it wasn’t that close.

    “He’s a problem. He’s a problem for them all,” Cormier said. “If he can fight like this. If he doesn’t let Francis Ngannou get rolling downhill. Heavyweights want to brawl. (Lewis) never had a chance. Cyril Gane just literally outclassed him. This man’s ready for a title. That’s all there is to it.”

    Gane became the first Frenchman to win a UFC title belt, and his seven-fight win streak with the promotion is the second-longest of all time in the heavyweight division.

    The final striking numbers read 99-8 in Gane’s favor.

    And again, it didn’t seem that close.

    Gane was clearly the faster and more athletic man from the start, and he consistently pressed the action in the opening round while constantly changing stances, bouncing on hie toes and giving Lewis multiple angles and looks.

    The gap became more pronounced and Lewis looked dejected on his stool following the second round, and the leg kicks ultimately left him defenseless deep into the third.

    It was Lewis’ first loss since he dropped consecutive fights to Cormier and Junior Dos Santos in late 2018 and early 2019. He’d won four straight since then, including two straight KOs that tied him for the UFC’s all-time heavyweight lead with 12.

    Gane, meanwhile, improved to 10-0 as a pro and didn’t hesitate to call for a showdown with Ngannou, with whom he has trained in the past.

    “I have no message for him. The fight’s gonna go off,” he said. “Let’s go. Just let’s go.”

    Cruz concurred.

    “This man’s ready for a title,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Loser: Watching the Time

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Jose Aldo was nearing 35 years old.

    He'd won just four of his last nine fights.

    And he was ruthlessly beaten by then-champ Petr Yan for nearly every minute of a bout that ended in a fifth-round TKO just 13 months ago.

    So to think he was past his best and would lose to fellow 34-year-old Brazilian Pedro Munhoz was hardly an unreasonable suggestion.

    But Aldo was having none of it.

    Instead, the King of Rio turned back the clock, established a new personal record for significant strikes and reestablished himself as a bantamweight commodity with a clear-cut unanimous decision win over the ninth-ranked Munhoz in Saturday's co-main event.

    Aldo arrived ranked fifth and might see a rise.

    "I've been working a lot. I want to be a champion in this division," he said. "I'm training harder, and you can bet that the next guys are going to see an even more aggressive Jose Aldo."

    The former champion at 145 pounds was faster, sharper and busier in all three rounds against Munhoz, mixing in leg kicks with frequent combination punching. He dropped Munhoz with a kick to the leg in the third round and opened a bloody gash alongside his left eye with a follow-up two-punch combination.

    Aldo won all three rounds on all three cards.

    He finished with a 114-75 margin in significant strikes, including edges of nine and 33 in the final two rounds after Munhoz outlanded him, 28-25, in the first five minutes.

    "That was an impressive performance," Cormier said. "You tell me, how is he at this age and still getting better?"     

Winner: Breaking Character

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    Vicente Luque is not typically the callout type.

    But a submission win over streaking welterweight Michael Chiesa was a special occasion.

    So the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace broke character and called his shot in the aftermath.

    "Kamaru Usman asked the welterweights to show him something," Luque said. "I think I've been showing. I think it's our time. I'm the only guy up there you haven't fought yet."

    Already the sixth-ranked challenger at 170 pounds, Luque staked his claim by forcing No. 5 contender Chiesa to tap out from a D'Arce choke at 3:25 of the first of a scheduled three rounds.

    Usman quickly replied on Twitter, saying the two fighters could be "dancing soon."

    The finish ended a tumultuous stretch that began when Chiesa countered a Luque punch by executing a double-leg takedown and chasing a rear-naked choke submission. Luque admitted the maneuver was 80 percent locked in, but he spun out and defended as Chiesa subsequently chased an armbar.

    Luque slid out of that danger, too, and then worked his right arm under Chiesa's chin, cinched it in with his left arm and isolated Chiesa's right arm while doing so, forcing the surrender.

    "Once he was in the position where I could sink in the D'Arce," Luque said, "it's really hard to get out."

    The submission win was the 13th finish of his UFC career, placing him second on the division's all-time list.

    "That was crazy," Cormier said. "He's a real contender now. You cannot ignore Vicente Luque anymore."

Winner: Repeating Yourself

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    Second verse, same as the first.

    Just like she had in their initial meeting more than six years ago—June 13, 2015, to be exact—Tecia Torres used superior speed, energy and work rate to best long-term strawweight opponent Angela Hill on the way to a three-round, unanimous decision.

    The three judges scored it 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

    B/R also had it 30-27.

    The win was Torres' ninth in her career among the UFC's strawweights, giving her the second-most octagonal victories in the division's history. And it effectively put to rest a rivalry that had gone from the cage to social media and elsewhere.

    "I'm satisfied," Torres said. "She said the first time I beat her was her first UFC fight. But now that I've beaten her twice, I won't have to hear that excuse anymore."

    The winner had margins of 18 and 21 in significant strikes through the first two rounds, respectively, before the gap narrowed to just nine strikes in a more competitive final round.

    "I'm definitely an elite striker," Torres said, "one of the best strikers in the division."

    She entered the fight ranked 10th, two slots ahead of Hill, and called for a top-five opponent for her next foe.

    "Tecia Torres fought a smart, winning fight tonight," Cormier said.

Winner: Enjoying Your Work

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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

    Rafael Fiziev is a guy who enjoys his work.

    The 28-year-old from Kyrgyzstan smiles, taps himself on the chin and drops in the occasional primal scream as he pursues his competitive quarry in the Octagon.

    And matched with respected veteran lightweight Bobby Green, he had a willing dance partner.

    "I don't know that there's two guys on this card that have this much showmanship," Cruz said. "They clearly enjoy what they're doing."

    The two combined for a 15-minute scrap that was both wildly combative and theatrical, matching each other gesture for gesture before Fiziev was awarded a unanimous decision.

    One judge gave him all three rounds, while the other two gave him two of three and a 29-28 margin.

    B/R agreed with the majority and saw it one point in Fiziev's favor.

    "Big respect for this guy," said the victorious Fiziev, who emerged with a nasty red abrasion under his left eye. "This is a real gangster."

    A gathering crowd in Houston booed the verdict, largely because the 34-year-old Green was a clear winner in the third round, landing the cleaner and heavier punches that tempered Fiziev's consistent aggression from the initial 10 minutes. The younger man had controlled the first 10 minutes by the same methods, catching Green with shots that landed in spite of his low-handed, shoulder-rolling defense.

    Green did out-land Fiziev in terms of significant strikes, winning by a 143-104 margin. Green concentrated much of his attack to the head, while Fiziev had a more concentrated attack on the body and legs—landing 26 and 31 strikes to those targets, respectively.

    "You see my face," Fiziev said. "How many times did I eat his jab, or eat other punches?"

Loser: Cashing in on a KO

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    Rules matter.

    Flyweight Manel Kape was understandably jubilant after starching Ode' Osbourne with a flying knee with 16 seconds remaining in the first round of their preliminary bout.

    So much so, in fact, that the former Rizin champion seized the microphone from Cormier during the post-fight interview and stated his case for a performance bonus in an obscenity-laced rant.

    And he might have had a case were it not for Friday.

    Unfortunately for him, the fight came a bit more than 24 hours after he'd badly missed weight—tipping in at 129, three pounds beyond the contracted limit. As a result, he not only was penalized 20 percent of his reported $90,000 base purse but also disqualified from consideration for bonuses.

    Bonus or not, the knee was a thing of beauty, coming as Osbourne simultaneously dipped and Kape sprang, resulting in a direct connection on Osbourne's chin.

    Kape finished the maneuver with a two-handed shove, pushing Osbourne to his back, where four more ground strikes drew a rescue from referee Jeff Rexroad.

    The winner is 16-6 overall and 1-2 in the UFC.

Winner: Powerful Precision

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    Plan your work. Work your plan.

    It's not just a rhetorical model anymore.

    Bantamweight Miles Johns and his coaching team had a clear strategy for their bout against Anderson dos Santos, and it's hard to imagine it going better than it did.

    The Dallas-based fighter staked a claim for performance-bonus money with one of the prettiest KOs you'll ever see, blasting his Brazilian foe into semi-consciousness with a one-two combination that ended the scheduled three-rounder at 1:16 of the final session.

    "The game plan is to find our targets," Johns said on the broadcast. "We got all these tools in our arsenal, and we bring out whatever ones we need in the fight."

    He began by battering his foe's legs with kicks, rendering dos Santos unable to move around the cage. Johns then began chopping away at the body to prompt a stationary dos Santos to drop his hands.

    The final sequence was a fitting follow-up, with Johns landing a hard left hook to the body before coming over the top with a right hand that laid the Brazilian flat on his back and prompted an immediate wave-off from referee Kerry Hatley.

    It was also a satisfying return to Houston after Johns was stopped in two rounds at the Toyota Center on the undercard of the UFC 247 show in February 2020.

    "To come back here and get redemption," he said, "it feels so, so great."

Loser: Frustration Familiarity

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    Victoria Leonardo knew the feeling.

    The Louisiana-based flyweight exited Dana White's Contender Series with a win last fall but was foiled in her UFC debut when she suffered a right arm injury against Manon Fiorot in January.

    So when it happened again in the second round of a Saturday night fight with Melissa Gatto, it wasn't hard to predict the ending.

    Leonardo went to her corner at the 10-minute mark and told her coach that her right arm "wasn't working" but insisted she could fight through it. Still, referee Jacob Montalvo summoned the cageside physician for a look and the doctor pulled the plug after apparently feeling a crack in the ulna bone.

    The official result was a TKO at the end of two rounds, and it was greeted by Leonardo falling to her knees and punching the mat in frustration.

    It was Gatto's first UFC win and first fight in any MMA promotion since July 2018.

    "I did feel it a little bit [when the injury occurred]," said Gatto, who landed 70 significant strikes to Leonardo's 43 and scored the fight's lone takedown. "I feel bad for her."

UFC 265 Full Card Results

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    Main Card

    Ciryl Gane def. Derrick Lewis by TKO (punches), 4:11, Round 3

    Jose Aldo def. Pedro Munhoz by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Vicente Luque def. Michael Chiesa by submission (D'Arce choke), 3:25, Round 1

    Tecia Torres def. Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

    Song Yadong def. Casey Kenney by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)


    Preliminary Card

    Rafael Fiziev def. Bobby Green by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

    Vince Morales def. Drako Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

    Alonzo Menifield def. Ed Herman by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Jessica Penne def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by submission (armbar), 4:32, Round 1

    Manel Kape def. Ode' Osbourne by KO (flying knee), 4:44, Round 1

    Miles Johns def. Anderson Dos Santos by KO (punches), 1:16, Round 3

    Melissa Gatto def. Victoria Leonardo by TKO (doctor's stoppage), 5:00, Round 2

    Johnny Munoz def. Jamey Simmons by submission (rear-naked choke), 2:35, Round 2