Next Saturday at UFC Wichita, Derrick Lewis will take on former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in a main event between two of the sport’s premier knockout artists. It’s also a bout between the third and eight-ranked heavyweights respectively and in a suddenly wide open division, a victory will immediately thrust the winner into title contention. And for Lewis that’s especially good news because, according to him, dos Santos is the easiest opponent he’s had to fight in quite a while.
“He’s probably the weakest guy that I’m gonna fight out of the guys that I’ve fought before,” Lewis told Helen Yee recently. “He’s probably like the fifth or the sixth guy. I don’t think he’s the toughest guy I’ve ever fought so we’ll see on March 9th.”
Lewis is coming off an unsuccessful title bid against current champion Daniel Cormier. After staging a miraculous last minute comeback against Alexander Volkov at UFC 229, Lewis and Cormier were called in on short-notice to save the UFC 230 card at Madison Square Garden. The quick turnaround didn’t do Lewis any favors though as Cormier took him down and submitted him in the second round. That loss proved to be an important learning experience for Lewis though, who says that now he realizes the downfalls of accepting short-notice fights if you aren’t ready and that that’s why he hasn’t fought since UFC 230 despite being offered a bout with former champion Stipe Miocic.
“You’ve really got to stay ready 24/7,” Lewis said. “You really can’t get ready because there’s no telling. They’ll call you short notice to fight anyone so you really have to stay ready.
“... They offered me Stipe but I told them it was too short of a notice. It was right after the DC fight and they wanted me to fight in January, right after I just lost to DC. So I just told them no, I needed some time off.
“... I had a fight in November then they wanted me to fight in January. I’m like, damn! This are all top guys so I needed some time off. I wanted a full training camp. My body, my mind wasn’t quite right.”
Lewis has had an extremely busy go of things lately. After nearly retiring following his loss to Mark Hunt in 2017, Lewis responded by fighting four times in 2018, recording two third-round knockouts and a unanimous decision win over Francis Ngannou in one of the worst fights in recent memory. Then of course there was the title fight with Cormier, so being a little burnt out is understandable. Now though, he says he’s back to feeling good and ready to return to form against dos Santos.
“It’s like I say all the time, it’s the heavyweight division,” Lewis said. “It doesn’t matter if the guys a black belt or if he’s a world-class boxer. We still have a 50-50 chance. We’re heavyweights, so it’s just gonna take one punch.
“... Really, [I’ll end the fight] whatever round I want. If I want to end the fight in the first, I’ll end the fight in the first. If I want to end the fight in the fifth, I’ll end the fight then. So it’s just whenever I get ready to.”
Such is his confidence, Lewis is already looking ahead to what’s next after UFC Wichita. His long term plans are to get back to a title fight as soon as he can but he knows one win won’t get him there so, assuming everything goes well with JDS, Lewis says he’s hoping to get back the fight with Stipe Miocic he was offered.
“Hopefully everything goes good with the JDS fight and we get it back in there real quick with Stipe,” said Lewis. “It really don’t matter who I fight next. He’s just right there and he called me out before. They had me booked with JDS while he called me out so I’m just gonna go ahead and call him out before this fight.”
If Lewis manages to beat both dos Santos and Miocic, it would be hard to deny him another title shot. However, with Daniel Cormier’s future now uncertain in the division, Lewis is already prepared for the possibility that he may have to rematch Francis Ngannou at some point since Ngannou is now coming off of back-to-back first round knockout wins. And if that happens, Lewis says he’s prepared to make it up to all the fans who were disappointed in their first fight.
“If Francis is still at the top or whatever and gets the title shot, after Stipe I will fight Francis again and it will be a better fight than our last performance.”
Derrick Lewis faces Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 4 on Saturday, March 9th in Wichita, Kansas.
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KSW doing their thing.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Tony Speaks in fever dreams.
“No Sauce Mcnuggets” @TheNotoriousMMA Just A Replica Of A Former Self He Used To Be. I’ve Got A Solid Right Hand To Test That Chin Of His. How Sweet It Is, -Tiramisu Tuesday pic.twitter.com/KGnJHeExsc— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) February 26, 2019
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Take a good long hard look at this picture ladies and gentlemen. I believe with my whole heart you are looking at the most well put together coaching staff ever assembled in MMA history. While the rest of the world is counting Anthony Smith out, we’re up at 11:30 at night studying footage and rehearsing our tactics. “You can’t count the home runs of yesterday.” Meaning we have to go out and prove we’re the best team every time we step out there. I keep hearing my opponent mention not fighting the person but fighting the persons body. Just an FYI.,We don’t count on our past achievements to carry us through our next fights. We definitely don’t depend on opponents being afraid of us. That’s just silliness. What we do count on is what we can control, which is our hard work and preparation. We do believe that there is no coincidence to past achievements. There is no luck over here. This team has been built off of prayers and hard work for almost 10 years now. We’re finishing this fight Saturday night. Not because I’m Jon Bones Jones but because we’ve earned it! Will you be a witness? #UFC235 March 2 #Champion2019 #AndStill
I NEED to see Jon vs. Francis. It’s like Anthony Johnson Plus.
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I swear I enjoy the week of the fight as much as the fight itself. There were lots of good vibes in the workout room tonight. Getting to see my old friend @sugarashadevans and meeting @francisngannou tonight was everything. What great warriors.. 3 more days until victory. #AndStill
Hell of a start.
Ranked 8 in 8 months. What’s next? pic.twitter.com/VEmAWhhcSd— Petr “No Mercy” Yan (@PetrYanUFC) February 26, 2019
Big signings coming.
I'm getting ready to announce some big athlete signings for ONE Championship!— Chatri Sityodtong (@yodchatri) February 25, 2019
Picking a fight.
Bring it on...I’m already there pic.twitter.com/zZwiAnWMpn— Jo Jo Calderwood (@DRkneevil) February 26, 2019
So say we all.
This is an incredible promo. Bellator gonna put this on soon.
This is the fight the Fans want to see. Rogan vs Jones. pic.twitter.com/d5Os3HL5dm— MMA Roasted (@MMARoasted) February 26, 2019
Sage Northcutt (11-2) vs. Cosmo Alexandre (7-1); ONE Championship, May 17.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2011: B.J. Penn had his final non-losing performance in the octagon, going to a draw with Jon Fitch at UFC 127. This event also had Mark Hunt’s first UFC win, a second-round knockout of Chris Tuchscherer.
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