This stacked UFC 265 card takes place Saturday night August 7th in the Toyota Center in Houston Texas. Texas Native Derrick Lewis (who earlier this year KO'd someone trying to break into his car here) looks for a hometown advantage in his bout with undefeated Ciryl Ganes in a heavyweight showdown. We also have former champ and future Hall of Famer Jose Aldo fighting fellow Brazilian and top 10 fighter Pedro Munhoz. The excitement from this event will be unreal from beginning to end in the lone star state with these fights having power, speed, submissions, and hopefully some knockouts; As well as revealing the next poor soul to take on Francis Ngannu. (Available for PPV)
Song Yadong vs. Casey Kenney: Bantamweight
We start the main event with a Bantamweight matchup between China’s Song Yadong and Casey Kenney from the US of A. Both fighters are on the brink of cracking into the top 15 for their stacked weight class and should make an interesting fight to get us going. Song aka the “Kung Fu Monkey” is just 23 years old but has amassed a professional record of 16-5-1 by using his combination of great speed and power with his striking. He is a good boxer at range with a good mix of kicks to check his opponents. His reflexes are stellar making counter kicks a big point of emphasis in this bout. Despite being dangerous and exciting on his feet (In career performance of the night bonus 3x and fight of the night once) his wrestling and ground game needs improvement. However, he is a member of the Team Alpha Male gym and has practiced his grappling with Chad Mendes who was one of the best boxers/wrestler hybrids that have come into the UFC. The Kung Fu Monkey has impeccable conditioning and could fight 10 straight rounds, if possible, even when taking shots, which will be a key to his path to victory. Keep the fight on the feet and use that speed and striking mixed with the excellent cardio to piece apart his opponent.
Casey Kenny is an interesting case going into this match. Kenny is hands down the better wrestler and possesses great power but his strikes take a long time to fire off and can be seen coming from a mile away. He also seems to really gas himself by throwing these strikes causing himself to lose stamina and do less damage through the later rounds of the fight. Kenny is a smart fighter, he has great and powerful leg kicks from the southpaw stance, often wading into the fire for a few solid punches and then retreating and repeating. He also has excellent grappling but his cardio is just not up to par with the division; Kenny could win in the first 5 minutes but after that is when it seems to all go downhill for the 30-year-old. Once he starts to miss strikes throughout the fight, he seems to get into his own head and give up and throw blind shits which then ruins his stamina management. His key is takedowns but his lack of conditioning gets in the way. In his previous few losses including Nathaniel Wood and Dominick Cruz; Kenny was winning the first round then lost steam and stopped attempting takedowns which ultimately cost him his fights when paired with the decline in output on his feet. He did take a month off and completely away from MMA before training for this fight to reset himself and reflect but who knows if it will work in terms of adjusting his gameplan.
I believe that Song is up and coming in this division and should be put on notice, he has better conditioning than Kenney and better striking, especially at a distance. This does not bode well for Kenny who has little t-rex arms and cannot close the distance with someone as fast as Song. Kenny wants to be the exciting guy like a Justin Gaethje be he is just not that guy (queue TIKTOK references). He will gas in the first round and get KO’d by the Kung Fu Monkey by the end of 3rd round.
Tecia Torres #10 vs. Angela Hill #12: Strawweight
To be brutally honest, this fight bores me. This fight is going to be a slow burn and unlike last weekend's fight, there will most likely be no highlight head kicks out if this match up. We Have Tecia Torres a wrestler who has worked hard to develop her striking against a Muy Thai fighter in Angela Hill. Hill is 36 years of age and is on the back end of her career. She has no wins over a top 15 opponent throughout her career; and has a very stagnant fighting style, meaning she is not adapting as she should with not having great wrestling or outstanding striking or anything special for that matter. Hill has a decent jab at long range and should try and use her 3.5” reach advantage. She is more on the comedown than the come-up.
Torres is the more well-rounded fighter between the two straw-weights. She has good striking volume and power paired with that clinch control and wrestling. She is not dominant from the top position but is good enough to get by, especially against Hill.
This fight will most likely be a slow and boring one, coming down to clinch control. I have Torres as the favorite in this dud in the middle of the card due to her wrestling background and her superior striking volume and power. This fight will be a major decision victory for Torres.
Michael Chiesa #5 vs. Vicente Luque #6: Welterweight
This welterweight fight is really where the fireworks begin. We have the “Maverick” Chiesa (pronounced key-sa) going against the Brazilian Vicente “The Silent Assassin” Luque. Chiesa is going to hunt you down in the octagon, take you down and stay on top of you the whole fight. He is a very intelligent fighter by staying with what he is good at and not putting himself in dangerous situations; the maverick is an excellent wrestler and has great Jiu-Jitsu, recently using it to defeat Neil Magney and Rafael Dos Anjos. That being said he has some weaknesses, which would all be categorized by his standing game. He is a bit weak and stiff on his feet, but hopefully with his time in Vegas around strikers like Sean Strickland to improve for this matchup against a killer like Luque. But Chiesa is good at making a game plan and sticking to it, and historically has been good at not giving enough distance to his opponents to generate enough power to knock him out.
I know I promised fireworks and Chiesa does not sound like the most exciting to the causal UFC fan, but Luque is a walking wildcard who comes in on an absolute hot streak and looks to keep it going. Since his loss to Stephen “Wonder Boy” Thompson, the Brazilian has victories over Niko Price and Tyron Woodley (Yes, the guy fighting Jake Paul). Luque is a technical brawler meaning he has an iron chin and gets in a slugfest. But despite just throwing and taking bombs, he does not abandon his technique, with excellent calf kicks which he uses to set up his strikes to the head and body. He is not the best grappler and won't look to tie up in the clinch but is a great submission fighter and has tremendous KO power truly making him one of the more fun fighters to watch. His Cardio is unbelievable and he is as tough as they come and will not get KO’d. He could very well be one of the strongest and most powerful 170 pounders in the UFC and will try to utilize that Saturday.
Luque is my favorite in this fight but don't be surprised if Chiesa can maintain on top position and accumulate takedowns throughout the fight. That being said, I do not see Luque falling the whole fight due to his endurance, strength, and iron chin. Luque got rocked in the back of the head by an overhand from Tyron Woodley (who might punch Jake Paul’s head clean off) and he just ate it and gave Woodley an ungodly beatdown. My money is on Vicente Luque getting a KO in the 3rd round.
Jose Aldo #5 vs. Pedro Munhoz #9: Bantamweight
In the second to last fight on UFC 265, we have two squeaks (both under 5’7”) going at it for a match within the top 10 in the heavily contested division. This Bantamweight bout could easily make for the fight of the night, we have two Brazilians who are both active, have a great defense, and excellent conditioning; I really believe both fighters could fight 25 minutes no problem.
Jose Aldo is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the UFC, but unfortunately, the way the sport works you can only be so good for so long. Aldo looked great in his last fight which was a victory via decision of Marlon Vera but his health and chin will always be a concern after fighting for so long. He has excellent movement and is very agile, throwing shots on the move in, out, pivoting, etc., and has high volume with these strikes which he does a good job of maintaining throughout the fight. He could easily have double the number of strikes than Munhoz. One aspect of Junior’s striking that is questionable is the consistency of his leg kicks and his checks for defending them, but he does a good job being consistent with body punches which Munhoz does not do. Pair this with his grappling defense and it will be a hard fight to lose on paper. Even though his takedown defense is top-notch, he cannot wrestle or use BJJ offensively; but for a fighter who is primarily a striker, this shouldn’t be too concerning for Aldo.
Pedro Munhoz aka “The Young Punisher” is a great wrestler and has excellent Ju-Jitsu ability which is utilized more often than his opponent. Munhoz is an incredibly powerful striker with high levels of output in his fights, but the difference between him and Aldo is the speed. He winds up longer than Aldo but when he connects, Munhoz’s opponents tend to fall. This is concerning for Aldo; he is more likely to get hurt by a big shot from Munhoz rather than vice versa. Munhoz has been in fewer fights in his career and has more tread on his tires, making his chin a bit stronger and his health less of a concern. What can be a concern is his tendencies with the leg kicks; Munhoz throws good leg kicks but does not defend against them at all and that damage can build up over the course of a fight. He can start out effective with his leg kicks at the beginning of the fight with good timing and power, but as he absorbs shots to the legs Pedro stops throwing his own kicks.
This will be an exciting fight before the main event that could have one of two outcomes; Aldo could play it safe and smart by keeping his distance and using his speed and striking to have a higher volume of shots on Munhoz and win Via decision; Or, Munhoz could invite Aldo in and counter with a powerful hook to get the victory via KO. I am leaning towards the latter due to Aldo’s questionable Chin, he has taken too much damage during his career. In Aldo’s last loss Petr Yan absolutely beat the brakes off him and definitely took years off his life with those shots to the dome. I believe Munhoz wins via TKO in round 3.
Derrick "Black Beast" Lewis #2 vs. Ciryl "Bon Gamin" Ganes #3
We finally have the main event of UFC 265, a heavyweight showdown where two terrifying individuals are squaring off for the interim-heavyweight belt and the chance to fight Ngannu (who is the scariest man on the planet. Both of these guys would fold me like a lawn chair. Coming into this fight it is hard not to get excited for “The black beast” Derrick Lewis. Lewis is an underdog in most of his fights (including this one) and has a bit of a doughy exterior but do not be fooled his punches are so dangerous they can change the momentum in any fight. Lewis is a big boy who is cutting weight to get down to 265lbs but he is a walking highlight reel. It is hard to say what he will do in this fight; he is so unpredictable that nobody could have seen his last victory coming against Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes was the better fighter and Lewis was huffing and puffing after 30 seconds (which he does every fight) and then unleashed an uppercut from hell to KO blades before he hit the ground. Lewis will rely on that power again to catch Ganes and admitted he is looking to get a lucky shot: “He’s boring most of the time, but he’s smart,” Lewis said. “It’s still going to be a fun night with me if he’s going to try and stay away and do all his little fancy kicks. I’m still going to have my moment in the fight”. He isn’t the worst wrestler offensively or defensively; his technique is not great but he is too strong to keep down. When he is in the bottom position, he has a mindset of “just stand up” and it works without much more thought going into it. That being said Lewis should aim to keep this fight on their feet.
Ciryl Gane (See-Ril Gone) is a French kickboxer who at first glance is definitely the more impressive fighter. He is 6’4” and 245 and absolutely shredded, but he only has 9 professional fights (9-0). As I mentioned he is a kickboxer but has worked on his takedowns and JJ game and had done a great job at stamina management in his short UFC career. In his last fight which was a victory over top 10 heavyweights Alexander Volkov, Ganes did a great job pacing himself and eating some solid shots. This is due to the fact that he is not always the most exciting fighter but is disciplined and consistent throughout the fight. He is also the more well-rounded of the two. Ganes is light on his feet and can switch stances fluidly which is very rare for a heavyweight and uses technique over his raw strength to wear down opponents. The Frenchman has an excellent jab which he uses to check his opponents and utilize his range which will be important against a powerhouse like Lewis.
On paper, Ganes should win this fight 9 times out of 10 due to his well-roundedness, technique, and athleticism, but there is still that one time where he gets his head caved in. Lewis could throw a crazy punch or a hook kick which someone 265lbs should not be able to throw and get a lucky KO, which is almost expected from Lewis at this point. Gane said in an interview he plans to apply pressure and throw a lot of punches, finishing Lewis before they get to the 5th round. I have to go with what my eyes are telling me and say Ganes wins via TKO or decision, but it only takes one punch, and would be happy to be wrong and watch Lewis’s sock Ganes into next week.
(All stats/fighter profiles courtesy of the ESPN and the UFC)