UFC president Dana White defends interim heavyweight title fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis

MMA: UFC 236-Weigh Ins

The UFC was met with some intense criticism from fans and fighters alike for the decision to book an interim heavyweight title fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis for UFC 265 on Aug. 7. The decision was unusual because Francis Ngannou had won the heavyweight title just three months prior and claimed he would be ready to defend his belt by September.

UFC president Dana White has now responded to that criticism in typically harsh language, defending the promotion’s decision to book Gane vs. Lewis while speaking with MMA Junkie.

“If anything, this will make the title fight even bigger when these guys fight,” White said. “It’ll be champion vs. champion and if Derrick Lewis wins, Derrick Lewis is the guy who beat him. Ciryl Gane has never fought him, and he’s undefeated, which means if he beats Derrick Lewis, the guy who beat Francis Ngannou, and he’s still undefeated going in against Francis Ngannou, that’s pretty f—ing exciting.

“So why doesn’t everybody just shut the f— up and let me do what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years? If you want to fight, I got fights every Saturday. If you don’t want to fight, no problem. Fly around the world, go on f—ing vacation, do whatever the hell you want to do, and when you’re ready to fight, we’ll be here.”

After the fight was booked, Ngannou and his agent, Marquel Martin of powerhouse agency CAA, expressed shock at the decision, leading to a war of words on social media, with White claiming Martin was “full of shit.”

Martin responded that he was willing to release all emails, texts and phone calls showing that the team was not made aware of the UFC’s plans. White has also recently pushed back on those claims, telling UFC Arabia’s Farah Hannoun, “You knew this was coming for weeks if we didn’t get a deal done. This has happened a million times.”

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