Watch the craziest moments from the championship-deciding heavyweight and lightweight bouts here.
ESPN reports that Gane kept Ngannou on his toes in the early rounds, employing different kicks to the legs, body and head.
But tides began to turn in the third round as Ngannou landed a huge body slam, followed by a second successful takedown attempt. He continued to ground the spritely Gane throughout the fourth round.
In the fifth, Gane scored a takedown of his own, but Ngannou employed an excellent grappling game to quickly achieve top position and avoid a leg lock.
The fight ended with Ngannou on top both literally and figuratively. Judges unanimously scored the fight in his favor 48-47, 48-47, 49-46.
“My ground game is evolving,” Ngannou said in his postfight interview. He also revealed that a doctor had advised against competing due to significant knee injuries: a torn MCL and damaged ACL. Ngannou insisted on fighting to “remind people I’m the champ,” despite feeling unsteady on his feet.
UFC President Dana White wasn’t present to wrap the belt around Ngannou per tradition amid bitter contract negotiations. Though a champion’s clause keeps him Ngannou signed with the MMA organization for the next year, his longterm future is uncertain.
“I don’t feel like I’m a free man,” Ngannou added. “I don’t feel like I’ve been treated good. It’s unfortunate I have to be in that position in order to say that.”
But the most riveting moments of the night came during David Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno’s coheadlining flyweight title bout. MMA Mania notes that both came out guns-blazing in their trilogy fight, showcasing vicious striking throughout.
Figueiredo, who scored multiple knockdowns, ultimately edged out a narrow victory, with all three judges’ scorecards reading 48-47 in his favor. The result brings the opponents’ record to 1-1-1, making the prospect of a tiebreaking fourth fight likely.
At welterweight, Michel Pereira defeated Andre Fialho by unanimous decision, and Michael Morales defeated Trevin Giles with a first-round TKO. The other main card contest saw Said Nurmagomedov submit Cody Stamann in the first round at bantamweight.