We're inching closer to a heavyweight showdown in Houston this weekend. Top contenders Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane are set to square off inside the Toyota Center with the interim heavyweight title on the line in the main event of UFC 265. The winner is expected to face full champion Francis Ngannou next after the titleholder was unable to be ready to compete this month. Now, Lewis gets a hometown main event with a piece of gold at stake.
While this might not be the loaded up card fans were expecting to get after two-division champion Amanda Nunes was forced to withdraw from her bout with Juliana Pena after contracting COVID-19, this event still has plenty to entice fans in. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo is back when he takes on fellow Brazilian Pedro Munhoz in a bantamweight contest in the co-main event. Plus, top welterweight contenders Vicente Luque and Michael Chiesa collide in a featured bout, and veteran women's strawweights Tecia Torres and Angela Hill also take part in the PPV portion of the card. Casey Kenney and Song Yadong kick things off in the bantamweight division on PPV.
Let's take a closer look at what to expect from three key fights on Saturday's card with odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
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Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong, Bantamweight
- Odds: Kenney -115, Yadong -105 | Last three results: Kenney - L,W,W | Yadong - L,W,D
- Kenney: Three-fight winning streak snapped in split decision loss to Dominick Cruz in most recent outing
- Yadong: A grappling-focused fighter with 11 submissions in his 16 career victories
An exciting bantamweight pairing kicks off the main card. Kenney made his UFC debut in 2019, having won championships at both 125 and 135 pounds in regional promotion LFA. He has picked up five wins in seven trips to the Octagon but has only picked up a single finish in those wins. All three losses in his career came by way of the judges' scorecards, including two by split decision, with 13 of his 20 career fights going the distance. One of those split decision losses came in his most recent outing, a highly-competitive loss to bantamweight great Dominick Cruz at UFC 259.
Yadong has a similar UFC record, with the Chinese-born fighter going 5-1-1 in the Octagon. Yadong has had more success finishing fights on the sport's biggest stage, scoring two knockouts and one submission in his five UFC victories. In his most recent outing, Yadong suffered the first loss of his Octagon career, dropping a unanimous decision to Kyler Phillips. Interestingly, Yadong is still just 23 years old, helping to explain the rocky 8-4 start to his pro career, a stretch of fights that all came before Yadong turned 18.
Kenney is currently a slight favorite at the Caesars Sportsbook betting windows, likely because of his impressive performance against Cruz, but this is a very interesting matchup between two durable fighters who have really put things together in recent years. A win would be big for either man, but finding a way to score a stoppage would be an even bigger statement.
Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa, Welterweight
- Odds: Luque -125, Chiesa +105 | Last three results: Luque - W,W,W | Chiesa - W,W,W
- Luque: On a 9-1 run over his 10 most recent fights
- Chiesa: Having the best run of his career nine years after debuting in the UFC
Chiesa and Luque have emerged as top 10 welterweights with strong runs over the past few years, making this a bout with serious significance for the 170-pound division. Both men are riding winning streaks, with that success coming against an increasingly tougher level of opposition.
Luque is 13-3 in his UFC career and currently riding a four-fight winning streak. In his 10 most recent fights, the lone loss coming against longtime welterweight contender Stephen Thompson. Even more impressively, Luque has finished 12 of his 13 Octagon victories. That high-action style has led Luque to win seven post-fight bonuses in his UFC career. In his most recent outing, Luque picked up a win over former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, surviving the best effort of Woodley's late-career collapse.
Chiesa has been around the UFC since winning Season 15 of "The Ultimate Fighter" in June 2012. He has quietly picked up a UFC record of 11-4 with the four losses coming against generally top-tier opposition, the worst coming against Kevin Lee. Six of his 11 UFC wins have come via stoppage, while he has been stopped in all four defeats. Chiesa also has five performance bonus wins, making the pairing with Luque one with a high chance of winning Fight of the Night.
Jose Aldo vs. Pedro Munhoz, bantamweight
- Odds: Aldo -125, Munhoz +105 | Last three results: Aldo - W,L,L | Munhoz - W,L,L
- Aldo: The greatest featherweight in UFC history, looking to earn one more title shot in his new division
- Munhoz: An action fighter with three performance bonuses in his four most recent fights
It's hard to imagine a Jose Aldo fight flying under the radar, but he was not in the main or co-main event slots on the original card, only getting the bump to co-main status when Amanda Nunes tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw from her fight with Julianna Pena. Aldo holds enough of a revered status in the UFC that any sustained run of wins could quickly land him back in a fight for a championship.
Aldo only holds a 4-6 record since 2015, the year that saw him suffer a brutal 13-second knockout loss to Conor McGregor, ending his run as featherweight champion, though he would win the interim version of the belt one fight later before losing a pair of fights with Max Holloway. Aldo dropped to the bantamweight division in December 2019, losing a close split decision to Marlon Moraes. Despite the loss, Aldo was matched with Petr Yan in a fight for the then-vacant bantamweight title, losing the fight but putting in a good effort. In December 2020, Aldo finally got his first win at 135-pounds, taking a decision over Marlon Vera.
Munhoz is an ideal opponent for Aldo, consistently bringing big action. Munhoz has won three performance bonuses in his four most recent fights. That includes a Performance of the Night bonus for his impressive win over Jimmie Rivera in his most recent bout. Prior to the win over Rivera in January, Munhoz had suffered back-to-back losses, losing a unanimous decision to current champion Aljamain Sterling and losing a split decision to former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. Munhoz has 13 stoppage victories in his 19 career wins.
Who wins Lewis vs. Gane? And which fighter delivers an upset? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 265, all from the ultimate insider who's up nearly $9,500 on MMA picks in the past year, and find out.