Heavyweight Interim Belt, Prestige, and Title Chances up for Grabs
A big fight will close out Saturday’s UFC 265 event. Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was not able to agree the terms with the UFC promotion to defend his belt at UFC 265. As a result, Dana White is offering Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane an interim belt. The winner of Saturday’s main fight will get a shot at the Heavyweight championship at some time in the future. I don’t want to expand on the value of the belt but it is what it is – I guess a “title” match is required to sell tickets and pay-per-view
Before the headliner, the co-main event between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz is crucial for the former’s chances to keep his bantamweight title shots alive. Michael Chiesa faces Vicente Luque right before in a much expected bout.
If you’ve landed here, you probably already know what’s set for Saturday’s UFC event. What I want to add is a view of stats and fight strategy for the three fights mentioned earlier. All stats below and in the charts refer to data from the fighters’ UFC fights.
Gane’s undefeated run is very likely to continue, but can be put to an end by a single punch
Derrick Lewis is a fun guy. People love him. Opponents hate his punches though. As one of the hardest hitters at the moment in the UFC, if not the hardest, Lewis has the experience required to take this fight. He is the strong underdog but he cannot be written off.
Ciryl Gane is exciting and has a unique style for a heavyweight. He’s the big favorite thanks to his great undefeated run so far. One look at his stats and you’ll understand why.
Lewis aims for the head, Gane keeps his distance, can hit and throw
- Lewis aims for the head, always looking for that one punch that will end the fight. He closes the distance and strikes hard, landing almost 50% of his striking attempts.
- He’s never seen a round 5 – all his fights end earlier.
- Gane keeps his distance and 3 out of 5 striking attempts are made from a distance. 55% of his striking attempts hit the target.
- He starts off with around 40 striking attempts on average in the first two rounds and then peaks at over 60 attempts in the 3rd round!
- His takedowns increase in round 2. Rounds 3 and 4 are striking-focused.
- The frenchman moves very well, especially for a heavyweight. He may be looking to gas out his opponent.
What to Expect
Gane is the big favorite here and will probably win it. I don’t know how strong his chin is, though. He may not be able to handle Derrick Lewis‘ deadly punches. There’s a low chance of an upset but it is a possibility. Gane does not have experience with fighters like Lewis so let’s see how prepared he is.
As a fan, a title match between Gane and Ngannou would be really exciting! Yes, Lewis has already beaten Ngannou and is one of a kind, but Gane is just quite unique in his style and in great form lately. With Gane averaging over 5 strikes per minute, I have a feeling this will be a good fight.
Jose Aldo vs Pedro Munhoz
Jose Aldo is set to be a future hall-of-famer as one of the best UFC featherweights of all time. However, his peak period, where he dominated the division, was over 10 years ago. This fight may be his last shot at a potential title push. He will step into the cage looking to prove that he can still perform well. He has to win if he wants to stay relevant.
Pedro Munhoz has an impressive record but has also been underperforming lately. This is a good opportunity for him to climb up the rankings.
Aldo is consistent, Munhoz increases tempo as fight goes on
Both Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz have fairly similar stats overall. What stands out is that Aldo is fairly consistent in his performance round over round, with a slight drop in rounds 4 and 5. Munhoz strikes at a higher rate than Aldo and seems to increase his attacks as the fight enters the later rounds.
The odds are slightly in favor of Jose Aldo. His experience should be enough to manage Munhoz’ late game attacks and get the win, likely by decision. I am interested to see if Aldo has anything new in his game plan.
Michael Chiesa vs Vicente Luque
The fight between Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque is expected to be the most exciting of the night. These two welterweights have quite a different approach to their game.
Chiesa, a.k.a. “The Maverick”, is a great wrestler with a high takedown and submission rate. He averages 50% success in his takedown attempts. Half of his takedowns actually lead to a submission attempt.
As a striker, Luque, a.k.a. “The Silent Assassin”, has around three times as more significant strikes per minute than his opponent Chiesa.
Grappling vs Striking
Two completely different styles will battle it out. The stats and graphs tell the story. Michael Chiesa will rely on his takedowns and submissions and Vicente Luque will look to overwhelm his opponents with his constant striking.
The graphs show that Michael Chiesa is very effective with his takedowns in the first two rounds. The submissions tend to come in the 2nd round.
Vicente Luque evidently strikes a lot. He averages 5.74 strikes landed per minute. What’s more impressive is his ability to maintain his rhythm throughout the fight.
Luque will be stepping into the octagon as a marginal favorite to win. It will probably all come down to how many hits Chiesa can take. I do think he’ll be able to survive through a few of Luque’s hits before taking the fight to the ground. There, Chiesa is comfortable enough to finish the fight.