There were big winners on the main card at UFC 265. José Aldo showed he has something left in the tank with his victory over Pedro Munhoz.
Tecia Torres defeated Angela Hill for her third straight, a victory that will continue to move her into the top 10 in the strawweight division. And Vicente Luque clearly established himself as one of the most dangerous fighters in a welterweight division with his submission win over Michael Chiesa.
But the biggest winner of all is UFC’s new interim heavyweight champion, Ciryl Gane.
He completely dominated Derrick Lewis for three rounds before clinching the TKO victory, and he is now 10-0 and starting to generate some excitement as the mixed martial arts world considers what a fight against him would look like. champion Francis Ngannou.
While Ngannou vs. Jon Jones is clearly the biggest fight the UFC can do in terms of overall appeal right now, could a champion vs. interim champion fight be bigger and more important to Ngannou’s career than a super fight against Jones?
As for Luque, his performances inside the Octagon certainly put him up for discussion as a future title contender. If your timing was different, your resume certainly deserves consideration for the title shot. But with current title challengers Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns on his way, could Luque benefit more from a high-profile opponent like Nate Diaz more than another highly ranked contender?
Looking ahead, the long-discussed and twice-postponed fight between Rafael dos Anjos and Islam Makhachev has been re-booked for UFC 267 in October. Could this high-profile fight dictate a future lightweight title fight?
Ultimately, Cody Garbrandt’s loss to Rob Font put an end to his hopes of regaining the UFC bantamweight title and likely precipitated his move to flyweight. Can you afford more than a spectacular knockout on your 125-pound debut?
Our panel, with Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, Phil Murphy and Carlos Contreras Legaspi, delves into the most important stories of the week to separate what is real from what is not.
Win is a bigger fight for Ngannou than Jones
Okamoto: It’s not real. It’s not as far off as you might think, though, and when 2021 kicked off, the mere suggestion that a Gane fight could somehow be compared to a Jones fight would have been unthinkable. The idea of Ngannou, the scariest man on the planet, fighting Jones, arguably the greatest of all time, has always been an obvious super fight. It could be the biggest fight the UFC can do right now that doesn’t involve Conor McGregor.
Win was a good prospect for 2021, and he probably could even have been designated as a future title challenger down the road.
Especially once the backstory is better known: that these two were once training partners, and Ngannou left the team and won his title with another gym. And once the public understands the fact that Gane is not only a real challenge for Ngannou, but is actually a favorite of some to beat him, the interest will be there.
If the UFC somehow finds a way to bring this fight to Paris, where they trained together, the scenes will be incredible. Due to Jones’ inactivity and the dominance that Gane has displayed, there are now multiple fights for money in the heavyweight division.
Luque should face Nate Díaz
This commented on the submission and why he is not yet a black belt in BJJ 🤔 pic.twitter.com/CcyeyHiVGG
– UFC Spanish (@UFCEspanol) August 8, 2021
Raimondi: Vicente Luque has never been ‘hotter’ than he is now with four straight wins, the last one by submission in the first round over Chiesa on Saturday at UFC 265. The Brazilian-Peruvian has finished all four opponents during this streak. Quite simply, Luque is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, and yet it seems that many casual fans still don’t know his name. He’s not among the UFC’s biggest stars, and frankly he’s still behind several fighters in his own division.
After stopping Chiesa, Luque challenged former Sanford MMA teammate Kamaru Usman, the UFC welterweight champion. Luque deserves the title shot. He has won 10 of his last 11 fights in one of the toughest divisions on the planet. But Leon Edwards also deserves the chance, and he won’t even get it next.
Usman is defending the welterweight title against Colby Covington in a rematch next November. What makes Covington more qualified than Edwards or Luque right now? Above all, it is because it has considerable name recognition and generates interest from fans, be it positive or negative. Yes, Usman and Covington had an instant classic of a fight in 2019 that could have gone either way until Usman finished it by KO. But Covington’s ability to generate excitement before a fight is what puts him on top.
And it is for all those reasons that I will say “real” to this statement. Luque needs something to “finish” more with the fans, to borrow a line from professional wrestling. A fight with Nate Diaz will do that job. I know what the rebuttal will be here. Edwards just beat Diaz three months ago and he didn’t do much for Edwards. Well that’s because Diaz nearly managed to finish Edwards in the fifth round and Edwards wasn’t aggressive enough to kill early in the fight when he had Diaz on the ropes. That is not Luque’s game, his entire brand is going for the kill. He is the most consistent finisher in the division. Are you telling me that Luque vs. Wouldn’t Díaz be an absolute success?
Diaz remains one of the biggest names in the UFC. And there is interest in that fight from both sides. Luque called Diaz, respectfully, after beating Tyron Woodley in March. Diaz is the type of person who appreciates that kind of challenge. Additionally, sources told ESPN that Luque was part of the conversation between the UFC and Diaz’s team before Diaz finally fought Edwards.
Luque won’t get the next title shot and may not even get the next one, especially if Edwards decides to sit back and wait for the winner of Usman vs. Covington. Luque will have to fight again and there are not many enemies who can elevate him as his team surely wants. Jorge Masvidal could potentially be someone like that. But Diaz works even better. Luque will be the favorite, the fight will be exciting and there is no question that Luque comes out of that fight a bigger star than he is now.
Garbrandt aims for a spectacular debut
Murphy: A long-considered flyweight flirtation suddenly made more sense than ever. Except, unlike his first reserved effort, a title challenge against then-champion Deiveson Figueiredo in November that never materialized following a bicep injury and a COVID diagnosis, this divisional debut will not have a belt at stake. . He needs something big against the famous and enduring (and natural flyweight) Kai Kara-France, so I’m going to say this point is “real”.
The best scenario for “No Love” is that his power is reduced and he achieves a knockout of Kara-France on par with what he did against Assuncao, Thomas Almeida or Takeya Mizugaki. Yet between Garbrandt and that first taste of flyweight glory is a weight cut that several before him struggled to manage: TJ Dillashaw, John Lineker, Tyson Nam and Scott Jorgensen among them.
The winner of Makhachev vs. Dos Anjos is an instant contender
Legaspi: It is not real, at least not at the moment. This fight became an obsession for both sides after falling apart twice in late 2020, and Makhachev believes that beating a former champion like ‘RDA’ can give him enough credit to turn him into a challenger.
Both coach Javier Méndez and his “assistant” Khabib Nurmagomedov believe that Makhachev may be dominant.
For dos Anjos, who has been waiting to fight Makhachev for more than a year, he is well aware that if he is able to surpass a fighter of Makhachev’s level, he can take the fast track to return to title challenger status. .
No matter how the fight goes, they still have a lot of competition to go through to get to the top. Fans are excited about the fight between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler in November, and Dustin Poirier is by far the fighter most likely to challenge champion Charles Oliveira next.
The Makhachev-RDA winner will take place, but he will have to wait until mid-2022 and get at least one more victory before competing for the UFC lightweight championship.