Francis Ngannou (17-3) earned a unanimous decision victory over Ciryl Gane (10-1) to retain the UFC heavyweight crown Saturday night from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California at UFC 270. Despite being seriously hampered, fighting on a torn MCL and an injured ACL, Ngannou battled valiantly and managed to outlast Gane in a statement championship title defense.
Gane was quick on his feet early, moving around the Octagon before rushing in to push Ngannou against the cage. The champ was patient, landing a flurry of shots, then following Gane as he escaped out. Gane continued to strike and move, connecting on a few kicks to the midsection while moving out of the champ’s range.
Gane continued to chip away with slight kicks to the leg and midsection early in the second. Ngannou, with two knee wraps, looked a little stuck in the mud as the quicker Gane refused to be a stationary target. Gane continued to frustrate Ngannou, and the crowd, with his movement, but he kept scoring points on the judges’ scorecards.
In the third, Ngannou jumped in much more aggressively, attacking with pace and eventually catching a kick from Gane, picking him up and bodyslamming him to the mat. From side control, Ngannou moved into mount then took Gane’s back. Gane moved out and back to his feet before Ngannou earned another takedown, but Gane was right back to his feet again. At the end of the round, Ngannou earned yet another takedown in a true statement round for the champ.
The fourth saw Ngannou’s pace slow significantly, while Gane continued to chip away with slight leg kicks and a few body shots. The champ earned another big takedown, moving to take Gane’s back. Gane found his way back to his feet before Ngannou took him down again, thwarting any transition attempts from the challenger and taking control of the bout.
With the margin of error razor thin headed into round five, Gane shifted his gameplan slightly and opened with sitting down on his punches. Gane caught a leg kick early in the round and put the champ on his back. From this back, Ngannou earned a gigantic reversal and found his way on top, but the challenger attempted to put him in a leg lock. Ngannou survived and took Gane’s back before moving into half guard, where he held the position through the final buzzer.
Ngannou, whose UFC contract has now expired, won the heavyweight belt after knocking out Stipe Miocic in March 2021 and may not ever fight in the Octagon again. Gane’s rise to the championship fight came on the back of an unbeaten UFC record and three consecutive wins in 2021, with decision victories over Jairzhino Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov, before knocking out Derrick Lewis in the interim title fight in August.