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.
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.
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.