UFC 270 results takeaway: Francis Ngannou shows the heart of a champion and the UFC must reward him

While it’s hardly a shock that the pair of title fights headlining Saturday’s UFC 270 card from Anaheim, Calif., turned out to be an exciting and dramatic affair, few people could have predicted how we got there.

The underdogs came out on top that night as Francis Ngannou unified the heavyweight championship with a shock decision victory over the undefeated Ciryl Gane in the main event. Meanwhile, 34-year-old Deiveson Figueiredo regained the 125-pound strap he lost by stoppage as he edged Brandon Moreno in a thriller to close out their third encounter.

Let’s take a closer look at what we learned from an exciting night inside the Octagon.

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1. Forget the fight, Ngannou defended his title with nothing but heart

Make no mistake, it was Ngannou’s surprising decision to rely on grappling over the last three rounds to control Gane that won him the fight via unanimous decision. But it was only part of a bold overall effort by “The Predator” to expose his undefeated opponent’s inexperience and do whatever it took to walk out of the Octagon with his title. Let’s face it, Ngannou looked everything from lost to exhausted in two rounds as Gane, a slight betting favorite, established control by striking from range. But Gane had never been in a UFC fight where he didn’t completely control the terms. And once Ngannou adjusted by knocking him down, it was Gane’s own gas tank that started giving him away. An unfortunate decision to go for a leg submission while on his back in round 5 also became a stumbling block for Gane as Ngannou broke free and improved his position to make the decision. Considering the drama of his ongoing contract battle with the UFC and the soap opera of facing his former teammate and ex-coach, Ngannou showed incredible mental toughness to find a path to victory and oust him until at the end. The fact that Ngannou also revealed after the fight that he competed with a torn MCL shortly after also injuring his ACL at the end of training camp makes the victory even more impressive.

2. With Jon Jones likely on deck, UFC must do the right thing for Ngannou

The absence of UFC President Dana White from both the post-fight press conference on Saturday and his traditional stance placing the belt around the title winners inside the Octagon seemed to speak volumes. long on the current temperature between the promoter and the main fighter. Ngannou explained during fight week that his current contract with the UFC expires in December and that he is ready to sit out until then if the UFC continues to offer him fight purses similar to the 600,000. $ he earned, according to the California State Commission. Any form of Ngannou, 35, taking another year off just to go into free agency would be a major injustice to just about everyone. The UFC has never been financially stronger in its 28-year history and it has never had a destroyer like Ngannou, even if its heavy grappling win on Saturday lacked its typical mix of violence and entertainment. . Although Ngannou continues to talk about a heavyweight boxing crossover in which it’s clear the UFC has little to no interest, it’s not hard to imagine that paying Ngannou what he worth inside the cage would only keep him there. A fight against Jones, the former light heavyweight king, would be one of the biggest and most interesting PPV main events in quite some time. One could also imagine several rematches against Gane still to come for Ngannou in the future. If Ngannou never appeared in the Octagon again, however, the blame would lie with the UFC and the UFC only in the court of public opinion. This has the potential to be a major statement in the ongoing public debate over fighter compensation and Ngannou has done nothing but repeatedly prove how worthwhile it is as an investment.

3. It won’t be long before Gane fights for the heavyweight title again

True champions learn from devastating defeats and come back stronger. Look no further than Ngannou for proof as he avenged a one-sided title loss to Miocic in 2018 by patiently dismantling him in their rematch last year, showing improvements in everything from his stamina to his defense against withdrawal. Gane will likely get his chance to do the same in short order, mostly because he’s far too talented not to. It’s hard to fully comprehend, but Gane is only three years away from transitioning from Muay Thai to full-time status as a mixed martial artist. Gane’s striking was so advanced early in his UFC run that head coach Fernand Lopez opted to teach Gane how to use his dynamic skills to avoid dangerous situations altogether — whether on the feet or on the ground – rather than slowing down his growth by taking the time to become proficient in areas where he lacks experience. While the downside of that decision was on full display at UFC 270, Gane took the loss well and seems to have all the necessary intangibles in him to bounce back from that loss in healthy fashion and come back even stronger. What made this fight so unique was that Ngannou and Gane potentially represented the only fighters on the planet capable of incapacitating each other. Gane may have lost his first shot at the undisputed title, but he was anything but overpowered or embarrassed. It has everything to be a valuable learning experience.

4. Attention: Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno, please #FightForever

For a trilogy of titles that weren’t necessarily claimed by fans given Moreno’s dominance in winning the belt last year, the pair of thrilling 125-pound stallions proved in their five-round thriller why they really are perfect dance partners. The 34-year-old Figueiredo picked up a gutsy win just seven months after tapping out Moreno when he patiently held on and edged the budding Mexican star by a close unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48 -47) in their third encounter. The fight was equally technical and thrilling as both fighters stood dangerously close to each other throughout and took turns creating pockets of action. Given how much fun this division has become following the UFC exits of former flyweight champions Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo, there’s no reason Figueiredo and Moreno shouldn’t be on their way already. single of fights three times in a row without intermediate fights for either by registering for a fourth. This decision has been challenged enough where it makes sense. Figueiredo also mentioned after the fight his willingness to head to Moreno’s backyard in Mexico for another rematch. Moreno entered the arena to explosive cheers in the Mexican-American market in Southern California. And while his rising star potential as the first Mexican-born UFC champion may have taken a hit with the loss, fans love a story of redemption even more. That same redemption went to the gritty Figueiredo that night, but it’s hard to believe this rivalry is about to be over.

5. Henry Cejudo has a fledgling second career to consider

Cejudo, a former two-division UFC champion, may have gone empty in his hopes of swaying Dana White into giving him a featherweight title shot and a bid for his third world title in as many weight divisions. despite his retirement. But he is currently doing very well as a young MMA coach at the highest level. Cejudo, alongside his own head trainer, Eric Albarracin, helped the former flyweight champion regain his crown in a five-round thriller. The transition from fighter to trainer was slow but sure for the former Olympic gold medalist. Cejudo also joined Albarracin as a consultant for former UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang. China’s first UFC champion may have been left empty-handed in a split decision loss to Rose Namajunas in their rematch, but some felt Zhang had done enough to get the nod. Cejudo also regularly works with former light heavyweight king Jon Jones. Whether or not he ends up cashing in on a big comeback in the Octagon, Cejudo seems to have the right attitude and battle IQ to make an equally big difference behind the scenes. Figueiredo, usually reckless, was much more patient and technical to beat Moreno on Saturday in their third encounter, which showcased Cejudo’s influence.

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