Gane dominates Lewis en route to 3rd-round TKO, claims interim belt

Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Ciryl Gane is the UFC interim heavyweight champion.

Gane defeated Derrick Lewis via TKO at 4:11 of the third round in the UFC 265 main event to claim gold Saturday in Houston.

The finishing sequence began as Gane rocked Lewis with an uppercut and left hand. Gane followed up with a barrage of punches, but Lewis briefly grabbed hold of his opponent.

Gane put Lewis back on the retreat with a right hook and a devastating knee. A head kick hurt Lewis as "The Black Beast" swung for the fences seeking a Hail Mary knockout. Gane connected with more shots, and Lewis crumpled. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in after a few moments of ground-and-pound.

"I was a little bit hungry because all of (my coaches) told me, 'Let's go, let's go, you're going to do this,' and we did it," Gane said postfight of the moment he hurt Lewis.

Gane, who became the first French-born fighter to win a UFC belt, set up a likely title-unification bout against reigning heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Gane and Ngannou trained together at MMA Factory in Paris before Ngannou relocated to Las Vegas in 2017.

Gane dominated Lewis from start to finish, picking him apart with leg kicks and punches throughout the first 13 minutes. Exceptionally quick, versatile, and light on his feet for a heavyweight, Gane and his skill set proved to overwhelm Lewis.

With the victory, Gane now owns the second-longest winning streak in UFC heavyweight history.

The 31-year-old was one of the fastest-rising prospects in the promotion after making his debut in 2019 as an inexperienced 3-0 fighter. He's won seven straight bouts in the Octagon and is 10-0 as a professional mixed martial artist. Gane has only been a pro since 2018.

"Bon Gamin" was ranked No. 3 in the division heading into Saturday's clash but will move up to No. 1 - just below Ngannou - next week.

Lewis was No. 2 going into the fight with Gane but saw his four-fight winning streak end. It's the 36-year-old's first defeat since a TKO loss to former champ Junior dos Santos in March 2019.

Lewis was originally expected to challenge Ngannou for the undisputed belt in the second half of 2021. But Ngannou and the UFC didn't agree on a date, leading to Lewis' unsuccessful interim-title opportunity against Gane. Lewis holds a 2018 win over Ngannou.

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Gane dominates Lewis en route to 3rd-round TKO, claims interim belt
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