It wasn’t easy, but Francis Ngannou’s reign atop the heavyweight division continues.
Ngannou (17–3) won via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 270, becoming the first fighter to defeat Ciryl Gane. And he did it in a surprising way, relying on superior wrestling and grappling instead of a knockout.
It appeared that Gane (10-1) had the fight exactly where he wanted. He got a fifth-round takedown, but instead of holding on to the No. 1 spot, Gane went for an ankle lock. It backfired, eventually allowing Ngannou to reestablish control on the mat.
It was shocking to see Ngannou win without landing any meaningful strikes. The next big question is what will happen to Ngannou’s future. After repeatedly stating that he wants a new contract, Ngannou certainly has some leverage in retaining the belt. UFC President Dana White usually wraps the belt around the champ’s waist at the end of the fight, but in this case it’s UFC Vice President of Talent Relations Mick Maynard. , who put the belt around Ngannou’s waist. Ngannou’s future is therefore uncertain, there is no doubt who the defending champion is.
In the fight of the night, a new flyweight champion was crowned. The decision was devastating for Brandon Moreno’s crazed crowd, but Deiveson Figueiredo beat Moreno to regain the belt, beginning his second reign as flyweight champion.
After five extremely competitive rounds, it was unexpected to hear the judges give a unanimous decision. Figueiredo (21–2–1) and Moreno (19–6–2) are now set to meet for the fourth time, which is a best-case scenario for a flyweight division short of top contenders.
The start of the map exceeded expectations. Michael Morales won his UFC debut in the first fight, beating Trevin Giles (14–4). The 22-year-old Morales (13-0) continued his unbeaten streak, ending that fight by TKO with just under a minute left in the first round.
Said Nurmagomedov then overpowered Cody Stamann, producing the third-fastest submission in UFC bantamweight division history. Claiming a top-15 finish, Nurmagomedov (15-2) landed shots early. This allowed him to bring Stamann (19–5–1) to the mat, where he quickly locked the guillotine choke, ending the fight in just 47 seconds.
Michel Pereira also beat André Fialho by unanimous decision in a round trip. Pereira (27–11, 2 NC) adjusted after taking some stiff shots in the first round from Fialho (14–4). Pereira’s front kicks to the body helped change the direction of the fight, which he controlled for the final 10 minutes.
UFC 270 was built around two title fights, and both were delivered. Figueiredo regained control of the future of the flyweight division, setting up a rubber match against Moreno. And 270 also represented a testing ground for Ngannou, who silenced all doubters in five rounds against Gane.
The heavyweight division belongs to Ngannou, as does the leverage in his pursuit of a new UFC contract.
HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: FRANCIS NGANNOU (c) VS. CIRYL GANE (ic) — 12:34 a.m. ET
Francis Ngannou had never won a fight by decision. And he never needed to win a fight with smooth transitions. Yet that’s what we saw in the main event of UFC 270, as Ngannou (17-3) defeated Ciryl Gane by unanimous decision to retain her heavyweight title.
Gane (10-1) seemed to tire Ngannou in those first five minutes. The body kicks continued to add up for Gane in the second round, and he was largely elusive whenever Ngannou tried to attack.
But the fight took a turn in the third round, when Ngannou took control with a powerful slam takedown. It was the first time in eight fights that Gane was lying on his back, and we were treated to some jiu-jitsu from Ngannou on the mat. Ngannou didn’t land enough big punches to end the fight. Both men looked tired as the round entered its final moments, but Ngannou capitalized by securing another takedown in the final moments.
Ngannou got a third and a fourth out in the fourth round. Gane opened the fifth round with a combination that backed up Ngannou, then he got a takedown. Gane desperately tried from top position to end the fight with an ankle lock, but that allowed Ngannou to reverse the positions.
Relying on his wrestling and grappling to maintain that lead position, Ngannou controlled key moments in the fifth round. The final two minutes were monumental for Ngannou, and he utterly wore Gane down as he made his first ever successful title defense.
SOFTWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: BRANDON MORENO (c) VS. DEIVESON FIGUEIREDO – 11:39 p.m. ET
Deiveson Figueiredo is back at the top of the flyweight division.
After five thrilling rounds, Figueiredo (21–2–1) defeated Brandon Moreno by unanimous decision. The crowd in Anaheim, Calif., was heavily behind Moreno (19–6–2), and there was a chorus of boos when ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced there was a new champion.
These two are destined to meet for a fourth fight, but it was a real surprise that it was ruled a unanimous decision.
The first two laps were extremely close with a slight advantage over Moreno. Figueiredo landed 14 leg kicks in the opening six minutes, but Moreno held on to the power advantage and landed a few clean shots, including an overhead left hand. The first real scramble came in the second round, with Moreno quickly looking to have an advantage, but it didn’t last and both men quickly got back to their feet.
Moreno soaked up the damage in round three. Outside kicks seemed to compromise his movement, but he still had the powerful left hand. Figueiredo hurt Moreno in the closing seconds of round three, dropping him with a right hand. If there had been more time in the lap, it probably would have been the end of the night for Moreno.
One of the keys to Figueiredo’s attack was his vicious range of outside kicks, which he hit Moreno with to open the fourth round.
Moreno opened the fifth round with one out, but Figueiredo almost immediately escaped. They exchanged shots around the two-minute mark, and Figueiredo again dropped Moreno with another big shot. There was an exchange of fire, but clearly Figueiredo had done enough to impress the judges.
WELTERWEIGHT FIGHT: MICHEL PEREIRA VS. ANDRE FIALHO — 10:59 p.m. ET
Michel Pereira defeated André Fialho by unanimous decision.
Pereira and Fialho lasted the full 15 minutes and the fight was closer than the decision indicated. Fialho controlled the first round, but Pereira was too explosive, especially with his body shots, in the last two rounds.
Pereira (27-11, 2 NC) now has a four-game winning streak. After Fialho (14–4) took control in the dying moments of the first round, especially with his jab, Pereira adapted extremely well. His front kicks to the body helped build momentum in the final 10 minutes.
Despite a solid outing from Fialho, the judges scored this correctly.
BANTAM WEIGHT FIGHT: CODY STAMANN VS. SAID NURMAGOMEDOV – 10:40 PM ET
Cody Stamann started aggressively.
It didn’t last.
Said Nurmagomedov rocked Stamann (19-5-1) with a back fist, then took control of the fight with a kick to the body. This allowed Nurmagomedov (15-2) to bring the fight to the mat and struggle. He locked his guillotine choke and Stamann quickly tapped.
At 47 seconds, it was the third-fastest submission in UFC bantamweight division history.
MIDDLEWEIGHT FIGHT: TREVIN GILES VS. MICHAEL MORALES — 10:21 p.m. ET
Michael Morales made his UFC debut a moment to remember.
Morales, 22 (13-0), defeated Trevin Giles in the first round by TKO.
Giles (14–4) had the early advantage, landing a straight right hand. Surprisingly, he then went to clinch, appearing to miss an important opportunity to take down Morales. This missed opportunity will be a moment that will stay with him.
With just over a minute left in round one, Morales hurt Giles with a counter right hand to the temple. There was an uppercut that followed, and as soon as Giles hit the mat, Morales attacked, leading to the TKO.
On a map that, outside of title fights, lacks the sizzle, this was a great way to open 270.
Francis Ngannou makes his first heavyweight title defense at UFC 270.
Nagnnou’s opponent is interim champion Ciryl Gane, who is looking to continue her unbeaten streak in the biggest fight of her life. It’s also a defining fight for Ngannou, who said it will be his last fight in the Octagon until he receives a new contract.
The heavyweights dominate a slim 270 card, but there is another title fight worth watching. Flyweight champ Brandon Moreno is looking to continue his remarkable run, and he finally has the chance to put former champ Deiveson Figueiredo aside. This is their third fight against each other, with the first ending in a draw and the second ending with underdog Moreno defeating Figueiredo. Figueiredo now comes in for his reception, and a win puts him back at the top of the division.
The immediate future of the heavyweight and flyweight divisions is on display tonight at a night of champions at 270.
More MMA coverage:
• Four burning questions UFC 270 will answer
• The Weekly Takedown: Ngannou’s future fuels intrigue as he enters UFC 270
• Brandon Moreno aims to avoid single title race at UFC 270