The playbook on defeating Derrick Lewis is simple: Avoid that big right hand.
It’s simple on paper, at least. In practice, it has turned out to be a lot more difficult for many a Lewis opponent in the UFC, as “The Black Beast” won nine out of 10 fights to get to a title shot at UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
But that’s where the Cinderella story came to its conclusion. Cormier never let Lewis even get into position to land one of his big knockout blows on Saturday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Cormier used his Olympic-level wresting to smother Lewis and wait for an opening for a rear-naked choke, which he used to finish UFC 230’s main event at the 2:14 mark of the second round.
“A lot of people have to understand,” said Cormier, who is now 15-0 at heavyweight. “I’ve been competing for nine years and I’ve been doing it at an elite level for eight years.”
Lewis, who is just a month removed from a home-run knockout against Alexander Volkov in the closing seconds of a bout he was going to lose via decision, threw several kicks at Cormier at the outset. But Cormier wasted little time closing the distance and scoring a takedown off the single.
Lewis worked his way back to his feet, but was immediately thrown back to the canvas, where Cormier continued to work him over for the bulk of the round.
In the second, Lewis threw a combo with bad intentions, which made Cormier take things right back to the mat, where he worked his way into position for the winning choke.
“You know what surprised me when I took that last shot he hit me in the right eye and I was blinking for about 30 seconds, like what hit me. Everything he did had unbelieavable power.
With the victory, Cormier became the first fighter in UFC history to have successful defenses of both the heavyweight and light heavyweight championship. He’s now 22-1 (1 NC) after his 15th career finish.
He had words for his expected next foe, former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
“Brock Lesnar, when you come, bring that brand new WWE title,” Cormier said. “I feel like being a WWE champion too.”
Lewis (21-6, 1 NC) had a three-fight win streak snapped.