NEW YORK — “The Black Beast” is big business.
In just four weeks, Derrick Lewis has gone from heavyweight contender popular among hardcore MMA fans to something of a pop-culture phenomenon. His UFC 229 post-fight promo, after a Hail Mary knockout of Alexander Volkov, went viral (“My Balls Was Hot!”) and now he’s fighting Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 230 on Saturday night here at Madison Square Garden.
On Wednesday, Lewis inked a deal with a brand near and dear to him, Popeye’s, his First Round Management team confirmed with MMA Fighting. Lewis, a Louisiana native, is longtime supporter of the fried chicken chain from his home state. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report the news.
Lewis and Cormier actually first interacted publicly in July at the UFC 226 pre-fight press conference. Lewis joked that he didn’t like Cormier much because of how he disrespected Popeye’s Chicken in a parody music video a few years back.
Now, the two will meet in the Octagon and Popeye’s Chicken will be, almost literally, in Lewis’ corner. Cormier, also from Louisiana, said he has tried in the past to get a sponsorship with the restaurant chain, but it never came together.
Lewis and another of his sponsors Represent shot a video of him “working out” with Popeye’s Chicken recently. That video can be seen above. It is part of a campaign to sell his “My Balls Was Hot” shirts at represent.com/blackbeast.
In addition, Malki Kawa, Lewis’ agent’ tweeted Wednesday that Popeye’s in Houston, where Lewis lives, will be hooking up “The Black Beast” as well. In a big way.