Dana White addresses Francis Ngannou and how the #UFC265 interim heavyweight title fight between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane came about. Full interview coming to @UFCarabia pic.twitter.com/aU8ewUULJT— Farah Hannoun (@Farah_Hannoun) July 6, 2021
When it was announced that Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane would square off for the interim heavyweight crown at UFC 265, it raised a lot of eyebrows in the MMA community.
After all, Francis Ngannou had only just claimed the belt with a second-round knockout of Stipe Miocic on March 27, and plenty of promotional champions have been sidelined for much longer without the creation of an interim title.
However, UFC president Dana White doesn’t think that putting an interim title up for grabs was out of line with the promotion’s usual method of doing business.
“You knew this was coming for weeks if we didn’t get a deal done,” White told UFC Arabia. “This has happened a million times.”
Ngannou’s agent, Marquel Martin, said the Lews vs. Gane booking completely surprised the reigning champion.
"This comes as a complete shock," Martin told ESPN. "To make an interim title so soon, if you look at the history of this division, it comes as a surprise.
"Francis is just now returning to the States to begin training, and he just won the title three months ago. We're unsure of what the reasoning is behind this, but we hope to get clarity soon and figure out something with the UFC soon. At the end of the day, they're in control of these decisions.”
Martin’s statement ultimately prompted a back-and-forth between White and the agent on social media. Martin claimed that Ngannou was looking to fight in September, but the promotion went ahead with making an interim championship bout anyway.
“What happens is, we run a business and we put on fights every Saturday night, and we needed to do that fight in Houston, we couldn’t get the deal done, so we did an interim title fight, which absolutely makes sense,” White told UFC Arabia.
UFC 265 takes place on Aug. 7 at the Toyota Center in Houston and is headlined by the interim championship clash between Lewis and Gane. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will defend her bantamweight crown against Julianna Pena.
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