After dealing with a severe back injury coupled with knee problems that kept him feeling anywhere close to 100 percent in many of his biggest fights, Derrick Lewis is happy to finally put those problems behind him.
With the ability to do regular conditioning again, the 6-foot-3-inch heavyweight has been in much better shape ahead in his recent performances but he’s still adjusting to the way he feels now versus most of his previous fights in the UFC.
Considering the majority of his wins have ended in knockouts, Lewis winning a pair of decisions in back-to-back fights is unusual but he takes full responsibility for the way those victories played out.
“I’ve been trigger shy,” Lewis explained during the UFC Vegas 6 media day. “I was a new creature. A different type of body coming into the octagon, feeling different, lighter, feeling faster and just wanted to test it out.
“Now that I’ve tested it out going all three rounds in my last two fights, I feel like I’m more comfortable and I can really let loose in the first round and not gas out. That’s what I plan on doing Saturday.”
While the coronavirus pandemic has forced most fighters to alter the way they’ve been training or preparing for upcoming events, Lewis says the differences have actually benefited him as he prepares for his sixth UFC main event.
“It really just helped me actually,” Lewis said. “I brought a bicycle and I’ve been cycling a lot early in the morning like doing 20 miles a day. It really helped me a lot.”
With better conditioning and a healthier body, Lewis is ready to unleash the beast when he clashes with Russian heavyweight Aleksei Oleinik on Saturday night.
In his previous win over Ilir Latifi back in February, Lewis left more than a few jaws on the floor after he attempted several flying knee strikes, which was definitely a new addition to his arsenal.
As he prepares for Oleinik this weekend, Lewis promises that he’s ready to uncork an even bigger surprise with this particular performance.
“I think you’ll see something you haven’t seen from me in a long time in the octagon,” Lewis said. “I’m going to come out balls blazing.
“Something crazy. Something different. You’ll see something different that you haven’t seen before. That’s all.”
Lewis isn’t predicting a first-round finish, although it’s been over four years since he put an opponent away in the opening five minutes of a fight, but he can guarantee that there will be no sitting and waiting to find out what Oleinik is going to do before he attacks.
“It will be more active for myself instead of being more patient and waiting till the last 10 seconds of the fight. I’m going to be more active this fight is all,” Lewis said.
“I went back and looked at his recent fight with [Fabricio] Werdum. I went back and watched that fight and he looked pretty good in that fight. Hopefully, he’ll fight me the same way.”
Despite being ranked in the top-five of the UFC heavyweight rankings, Lewis isn’t really concerned much with chasing the title or setting himself up for an even bigger matchup after facing off with Oleinik.
Instead, Lewis just wants to leave a lasting impression in the main event and he sounds more than confident that will happen.
“This fight takes me to a new level,” Lewis said. “I’m feeling completely different fight week than I have in the past. I feel like I’m just getting better. I really want to show the fans and show everyone that I have got better.”