Widely expected to headline the UFC’s preliminarily planned return to the Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas on August 7. for UFC 265 — the heavyweight championship rematch between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis is now reportedly unlikely to feature at the pay-per-view showcase.
As per a report from Ariel Helwani this afternoon, scheduling conflicts have put the planned heavyweight title re-run between champion, Ngannou and the #2 ranked Lewis in jeopardy of featuring at UFC 265, with an event, likely UFC 266 on September 25. now targeted by the organization to host the championship rematch.
Whilst not officially announced by the promotion, Ngannou vs. Lewis 2 was widely expected to take main event status at UFC 265, with promotional president, Dana White, outlining an August timeframe for the rematch. The pay-per-view event currently features a bantamweight title pairing between two-weight gold holder, Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena. At the time of publication, it’s currently unknown if that title fight will headline the flagship event.
Ngannou and Lewis initially met for the first time back in July of 2018 at UFC 226, where the current titleholder dropped a forgettable unanimous decision loss to Lewis, in his second consecutive blemish following a January title challenge defeat to Stipe Miocic.
In the time since, Ngannou has racked up an astonishing five straight knockouts from his next fight fights, including stoppages of Curtis Blaydes, former champions, Cain Velasquez, and Junior dos Santos, Suriname kickboxer, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and in March of this year, headlined UFC 260 in a championship rematch opposite, Miocic — clinching the title with a second round flurry.
For one-time title chaser, Lewis, he’s enjoyed a certain purple-patch himself since his most recent loss; a March 2019 knockout defeat to common-foe, dos Santos — which has seen him establish himself as the most prolific knockout artist in heavyweight history in the promotion’s books. And most recently halted the run of Blaydes with a February knockout at UFC Vegas 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the time since Ngannou and Lewis’ spectacular knockout wins, former two-time light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones has been involved in some rather public negotiation fallouts with the promotion, in a bid to secure a long-awaited heavyweight debut and immediate title challenge opposite Ngannou. According to White, Lewis is the deserved challenger to Ngannou’s throne next amid his recent run of form which includes three knockout victories in his last four Octagon walks.
If the promotion elects to field Ngannou vs. Lewis 2 at UFC 266 which is scheduled to take place on September 25. — that card will then feature a championship tripleheader. A light heavyweight title offing between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira is scheduled, while a featherweight gold rescheduling between TUF coaches and emerging rivals, Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega is currently targeted for that event also.