Cameroon's Ngannou holds off Frenchman Gane to retain heavyweight UFC title

Francis Ngannou celebrates victory over Ciryl Gane after their fight for the heavyweight title at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on January 22, 2022.
Francis Ngannou celebrates victory over Ciryl Gane after their fight for the heavyweight title at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on January 22, 2022. © Frederic J. Brown, AFP

Cameroonian fighter Francis Ngannou, known as 'The Predator', scored a decision victory over Frenchman 'Bon Gamin' Ciryl Gane to hold on to his heavyweight UFC 270 title on Saturday night.

Advertising

In a surprising turn of events, Ngannou, the UFC's king of the fast knockout, saved his heavyweight championship with his grappling game after dropping the first two rounds.

The Las Vegas-based fighter used takedowns and top control over the final three rounds to eke out a unanimous decision at Honda Center in Anaheim, California, and retain his belt.

The judges' scores were 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46 to mark the first decision victory of Ngannou's career.

Saturday's fixture offered an intriguing match-up, the two fighters having previously trained together in Paris – Ngannou was once a homeless immigrant in the French capital – before pursuing their careers in the US.

Gane, a kickboxer, used body kicks over the first two rounds to keep Ngannou from getting untracked. In the third, he used a huge slam to alter the fight, and followed it with a judo throw later in the round.

In the fourth round, Ngannou used another takedown to stymie Gane. In the fifth, Gane scored a takedown, but Ngannou switched position and used top control over the rest of the round to seal the fight.

Trilogy fight

The evening's co-feature bout was the rare case where a trilogy fight was not the concluding matchup between a pair of fighters.

In a sensational bout, Deiveson Figueiredo of Brazil won a razor-thin affair with Tijuana's Brandon Moreno to regain the UFC flyweight title. The judges' scores were 48-47 across the board for a unanimous decision.

The bout was a 25-minute whirlwind, Moreno (19-6-2) landed more often, but Figueiredo (21-2-1) landed harder shots and scored more knockdowns, including one in a frantic and close final round that very well may have spelled the difference on the scorecards.

With the victory, the duo are now tied at 1-1-1. Their first bout at UFC 256 ended with Figueiredo retaining the championship via majority draw. Moreno took the title via third-round submission at UFC 263.

With the win in the third fight, Figueiredo became the first two-time UFC flyweight champion with the win. He indicated after the fight he was willing to give Moreno a fourth-right rematch to settle things.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning