UFC

UFC 270: Ngannou retains title after downing Gane despite MCL tear

By Sports Desk January 23, 2022

Current champion Francis Ngannou retained his UFC heavyweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Ciryl Gane in Anaheim on Saturday.

The Cameroon-born 35-year-old got the better of his former training partner Gane for the first victory by decision of his 17-3-0 UFC career.

Ngannou triumphed 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47, relying on grappling rather than his power to claim the win in his first title defence.

Gane utilised his movement and skill in the first two rounds to subdue Ngannou, who revealed after the bout he had torn his MCL and injured his ACL in training, limiting his agility.

Ngannou adopted a different strategy in the third round, taking down the surprised Gane to assume control. He utilised the same tactics to good effect in the fourth too.

Gane took down Ngannou in the fifth round but the current champion was able to sweep out and re-gain control.

“Three weeks ago I hurt my knee, tore my MCL completely," Ngannou said after the fight. "I wanted to call off the fight but couldn’t see myself retreating from this fight."

The victory may mark the end of Ngannou's time in the sport with his UFC contract due to expire and he admitted the lure of boxing remained.

“Boxing is always in the back of my pocket, it’s something I must do before the end of my career,” Ngannou said.

Figueiredo re-claims flyweight title

In the men's flyweight championship, the UFC's first Mexico-born champion Deiveson Figueiredo defeated Brandon Moreno by unanimous decision.

Figueiredo re-claimed the title he had lost to Moreno six months ago in the co-headline event with all three judges ruling 48-47 in his favour.

Michel Pereira beat Andre Fialho by unanimous decision in the welterweight division, while Said Nurmagomedov triumphed over Cody Stamann by first-round submission in the men's bantamweight.

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    Charles Oliveira denied Justin Gaethje from claiming his vacated UFC lightweight championship, winning via submission in the first round at UFC 274 on Saturday.

    Oliveira was stripped of the lightweight belt he held after missing weight, meaning only Gaethje could win the title on Saturday.

    After a furious opening exchange, the 32-year-old secured an 11th consecutive victory, reaffirming his status as the most dominant fighter in the division.

    Extending the UFC record for the most submission wins (16) and most finishes (19), the Brazilian made his status in the division clear despite the vacated title.

    "There's something missing here. The champ has a name and his name is Charles Oliveira," he said post-fight.

    "This is a message to the entire division. I'm a problem for the entire division, look at my team.

    "Dana White, I don't care who you put in front of me. I will take them all on."

    Gaethje came out the blocks quickly and landed some big shots but critically allowed his opponent to stand back up after he was knocked down.

    Given that breathing room, Oliveira recovered immediately, planting a right-hand to get Gaethje down on the ground and then showed composure, not seeking ground-and-pound but a submission.

    Gaethje gave up his back after wriggling out of an initial attempt at a triangle, and Oliveira took advantage from there with a rear-naked choke.

    Esparza wins as Chandler makes vicious KO

    In the co-main event, Carla Esparza claimed victory over Rose Namajunas in a controversial 47-48 49-46 48-47 split decision, to claim the UFC women's strawweight championship.

    In what was a very tepid bout, Namajunas effectively left her fate and belt in the hands of the judges, allowing Esparza to make sporadic forays and takedowns.

    It was very different to the other lightweight bout of the night, where Michael Chandler scored a breathtaking knockout win over Tony Ferguson in the second round.

    After an exciting first round, Chandler ended the fight early with an explosive front kick, catching Ferguson on the chin.

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    The Brazilian will still take on Gaethje in Nevada on Saturday but a victory would only see the lightweight belt remain vacant. Should Gaethje win, however, he would be crowned champion. 

    Oliveira initially weighed in half a pound over the 155lb limit and was unable to shift it after being granted an extra hour. 

    The UFC did not confirm what fine Oliveira would face for failing to make weight for the main event. 

    Oliveira won the lightweight championship after it was vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov by beating Michael Chandler at UFC 262 in May 2021. 

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  • UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou expecting to face Fury in 2023 UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou expecting to face Fury in 2023

    UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is "70 per cent" certain he will face boxing superstar Tyson Fury in a crossover fight next year.

    Fury defeated Dillian Whyte via a sixth-round knockout at Wembley on Saturday to retain his WBC heavyweight title and reiterated afterwards he intends to retire from boxing.

    However, the 33-year-old, who improved his career record to 32-0-1, has not ruled out competing under a different format – including another shot at WWE later this year.

    And Ngannou, who joined Fury in the ring after this victory over compatriot Whyte, is hopeful that a hybrid fight can be agreed with the Englishman.

    "We both want this fight, that's clear, and we respect each other," Ngannou told the MMA Hour. "Probably next year it will happen.

    "I think it's going to happen, it's just a matter of our promotions, but we will sort this out at some point."

    Ngannou added: "Make it a hybrid fight, something that makes it a little uncomfortable for him as a boxer.

    "Ideas like MMA gloves or fighting barefoot. I don't know, we still have to figure this out.

    "I would say there's a 70 per cent chance [my next opponent] is Tyson Fury. On his side I would say 90 per cent against me."

    Ngannou underwent surgery to repair MCL and ACL injuries earlier this year and is not expected to return to action until November at the earliest.

    The 35-year-old, who retained his heavyweight crown with victory over Ciryl Gane in January, is so determined to face Fury that he will make it part of any deal signed with UFC. 

    "The Tyson Fury fight has to be part of the discussion [with the UFC] – there is no other option," he said.

    "The UFC is a great promotion and I want to keep fighting. The Tyson Fury fight is not my last fight, there's still a lot of fights out there.

    "There's Jon Jones, there's the Stipe Miocic trilogy, there's big fights I can do in the UFC and I'd really like that to happen."

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