The first title defense for new UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou against challenger Derrick Lewis will be delayed just a bit of time. According to MMA journalist Ariel Helwani, the original target date of August 7, which is set to be UFC 265, will not work due to scheduling conflicts. It was not reported whether this conflicted with the champion Ngannou, or Lewis.
While the August date appears unlikely at this time, Helwani would go on to report that the new target date for the title fight is September, which would be UFC 266.
UFC hoped to book Francis Ngannou x Derrick Lewis 2 for Aug. 7 but that is currently looking like a long shot at this point, sources say. Scheduling conflicts.
Nothing finalized at the moment but September is now a new target, I’m told.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 23, 2021
When the fight does happen it’ll be the first title defense for Ngannou who became champion at UFC 260 earlier this year when he defeated then-champion Stipe Miocic by second-round knockout, in what was a rematch of their first fight back in 2018 which Miocic won by unanimous decision.
Following his loss to Miocic, Ngannou would drop another decision loss to Lewis back at UFC 226 in a very lackluster fight for both fighters. Since the two losses, Ngannou has reeled off five consecutive victories, all by knockout, four of which came in the first round.
This will also be the second attempt at UFC gold for Lewis, who came up short against former champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 by second-round submission. Lewis, like Francis Ngannou, also suffered a two-fight losing skid before going on his current winning streak.
Lewis is now on a four-fight winning streak, including his most recent victory earlier this year when he knocked out Curtis Blaydes in the second round. Both Lewis and Ngannou have been vocal about wanting this rematch after the first one lacked the expected excitement, and after talks stalled with former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, the promotion quickly moved to give the title fight to Lewis.
It’s likely we will still see Francis Ngannou vs Derrick Lewis 2 for the heavyweight title, the date will just be a bitter later than expected.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
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