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Derrick Lewis' coach: Francis declined all dates we offered

The UFC’s announcement of an interim heavyweight title fight between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane has not been without its fair share of controversy.

For one, the interim title fight is scheduled for August 7th at UFC 265; a little over four months removed from Francis Ngannou winning the undisputed heavyweight title on March 27th. When the news of this interim title fight was announced, Ngannou’s agent Marquel Martin said: “This comes as a complete shock… We hope to get clarity and figure out something with the UFC soon.”

However, it was yesterday when things got interesting on the other end, with Derrick Lewis’ striking coach claiming that Ngannou declined all dates proposed by Lewis’ team, saying in an Instagram post: “Let it be known we agreed to fight Francis for June, August, and September.”

Some suspect that the Lewis vs. Gane booking is a power play by the UFC to curb Ngannou’s bargaining leverage. Nonetheless, it is certainly unprecedented, as no UFC interim title fight has been held so quickly after an undisputed title fight in the same weight category.

UFC 265 will be held in Houston in front of Lewis’ hometown crowd.