ANAHEIM, Calif. — Francis Ngannou retained his UFC heavyweight title with a shocking show of superior grappling in a unanimous-decision victory over beforehand unbeaten Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on Saturday evening.
Deiveson Figueiredo additionally beat Brandon Moreno by unanimous choice, concluding an exciting battle trilogy by reclaiming the flyweight championship belt he misplaced to Moreno seven months in the past.
Ngannou (17-3) defended his heavyweight belt for the primary time with spectacular perseverance towards Gane (10-1), his fellow French citizen. The champ additionally did it on an injured knee, and he mentioned afterward that a number of medical doctors suggested him to drag out of the bout three weeks in the past.
“I am very completely satisfied to maneuver on via damage and all of the drama, all of the speak round this battle,” Ngannou mentioned. “I am very completely satisfied to lastly recover from this in the easiest way. … That was the purpose I got here right here tonight to make, to show that I am the champ, and what it takes to show that’s to defend the title. It feels fairly good. It is all the time good to have the victory. It would not matter how.”
Each heavyweights possess unimaginable energy and uncommonly fluid athleticism for giant males, however the champion took management of a cagey battle within the third spherical with the primary of a number of takedowns. Ngannou turned a matchup between fearsome strikers right into a wrestling match that showcased his much-improved sport on the bottom.
The judges scored it 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for Ngannou, who had by no means gained a call in his blended martial arts profession. The Related Press additionally scored it 48-47 for Ngannou, the Cameroon-born French citizen who trains in Las Vegas.
Simply 10 fights and three 1/2 years after his skilled MMA debut, Gane appeared to have an edge within the first two rounds of his first title battle with superior putting with each fighters confirmed applicable warning for one another’s energy.
Gane blended in some spinning kicks with growing confidence, however Ngannou modified the tone of the battle early within the third when he bought an arm underneath Gane’s leg and lifted the challenger skyward, slamming him down. Gane had by no means been taken down in his UFC profession, however Ngannou did it repeatedly within the third and fourth rounds, displaying off his markedly improved wrestling and Gane’s weaknesses in protection.
“It was not a shock,” Gane mentioned. “We knew already it was potential. It was considered one of his greatest possibilities to win some rounds. He did it, and he did it very effectively. Good job.”
Ngannou landed a leg sweep within the fifth, however Gane recovered and tried to safe a heel hook. The bid failed, and Ngannou bought again on high and completed the battle sturdy.
Figueiredo (21-2-1) gained the penultimate bout 48-47 on all three judges’ scorecards after a frenetic, bodily addition to a rivalry that has featured 13 rounds of excellent motion during the last 13 months. The trilogy started with a majority attract December 2020 and continued with Moreno’s third-round stoppage victory final June in Arizona.
Figueiredo and Moreno (19-6-2) traded huge photographs all through the third bout, however the Brazilian winner rode a robust begin to his first victory since November 2020. Figueiredo was overjoyed after reclaiming his belt in his first battle since shifting his coaching camp to Phoenix to work with former two-division UFC champ Henry Cejudo.
“I’ve undoubtedly tasted the flavour of being champion as soon as, however this one has a particular taste as a result of it is with a brand new household,” Figueiredo mentioned via a translator. “To have the ability to carry this to them is essential. … This can be a staff that embraced me, that welcomed me, that took care of me. The one factor I wish to do is go house and seize my household and convey them to America, to not solely concentrate on this sport, however concentrate on this staff.”
Moreno gained loads of exchanges, and he had the ferocious backing of a Southern California crowd that includes loads of followers who drove 110 miles from his native Tijuana to observe the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion.
The judges gave it to Figueiredo by a slim margin — however he would not assume this rivalry is completed.
“I am prepared for a fourth battle towards Brandon in Mexico,” mentioned Figueiredo, who later mentioned he would additionally do the battle in Brazil or within the U.S.
With a fiery pink stripe painted into his bleached-blond hair, Figueiredo got here out with a robust first spherical at Honda Heart, hurting the champ each with kicks and fast arms. That they had a number of thrilling standup exchanges within the third spherical, every getting harm and recovering — and Figueiredo despatched Moreno crashing to the canvas with a proper hand to the temple with about 8 seconds left within the spherical.
Moreno’s putting picked up within the fourth, and he landed a dramatic upper-body takedown 30 seconds into the fifth. Each fighters went out swinging in a brutal fifth spherical that concluded with 30 seconds of heedless swinging and slinging.
Moreno’s followers repeatedly chanted “Si se puede!” and roared for something the champion did in Orange County, an space with deep MMA roots. Moreno was backed each by the Los Angeles space’s enormous Mexican-American inhabitants and loads of touring followers.
“It is a bizarre feeling, as a result of it is the primary time in my life after I misplaced a call however I felt like I gained,” Moreno mentioned. “I am hungrier than ever. I wish to see this man once more.”
Ngannou gained his title final March within the fruits of a rocky journey to the highest. He was ticketed as a future champion from practically the second he introduced his fearsome energy to the UFC, however psychological lapses and surprising losses delayed his ascent till a five-fight profitable streak capped by his stoppage of champion Stipe Miocic.