Derrick Lewis has been brought under the bright spotlight in UFC 230 as he sets to battle the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Daniel Cormier. It easily is one of the biggest fights in his long career but is the “Black Beast” set-up to fail because of the company’s hasty booking?
UFC 230 is a monumental event and many argued that it would be one of the biggest in 2018 because it was going to be held at Madison Square Garden in New York. The first time the UFC was in New York was in UFC 205 where Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez featured in the main event. McGregor would go on and beat Alvarez to be the company’s first simultaneous champion.
They would again return in 2017 when Georges St. Pierre made his return in UFC 217, facing off against then-middleweight champion Michael Bisping as they battled for the title. GSP won and regained his crown in spectacular fashion.
This year, the UFC had trouble with booking a main event for their New York show, with the Nate Diaz – Dustin Poirier scrap being pulled due to Poirier succumbing to an injury.
Initial reports revealed that a women’s flyweight title was set to be the main event, with Valentina Shevchenko facing off against Sijara Eubanks but that was quickly dissolved when rumours surrounding Derrick Lewis and Daniel Cormier began to circulate and the talks of Joanna Jedrzejczyk moving to the UFC 231 card surfaced.
Now, it’s official and November 4 (SGT) is the date where Lewis will look to change his status to viral star to world champion.
PUNCHING HIS WAY TO STARDOM
Recently fighting in UFC 229, Lewis certainly had his plate full against Russian striker Alexander Volkov.
The 29-year-old fighter nicknamed “Drago” was able to maximise his reach and technical striking to keep most of Lewis’ attacks at bay, peppering him with punches and kicks that visibly slowed down “The Black Beast.”
His movement was gingerly and he was getting beat to the punch, but Lewis kept his composure as many knew he had his power that he could always fall back on. It finally reared its head in the third round as he clocked the Russian with a looping right that sent him to the canvas, resulting in the referee saving him from further punishment and handing Lewis the knockout victory.
— Nino (@Nino_416) October 7, 2018
That win, the 21st of his career, shot him to new heights in his career. With that swing, he has now booked his spot in the next pay-per-view event.
DEFINITELY CHECKS ALL THE BOXES
A towering presence anywhere he goes, Lewis is definitely a fighter with the capacity to become a superstar.
He is witty and makes for excellent interviews, he has the charisma and is able to maximise his interactions with his fans. He has one of the most entertaining Instagram pages of any fighter in the company.
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Lewis is certainly a likeable fighter and in an industry where trash talking, brawls and anger thrown against the other fighter are becoming the norm, finding someone who anyone can relate to but is still a beast in the Octagon is something to welcome.
THE HARSH REALITY
With all that being said, throwing him in the main event is a tough pill to swallow and the short turnaround time might prove to be too much even for the Houston native.
In fact, Lewis even spoke about it in an interview where he believed it was too quick of a return to be offered such a big fight after fighting only a few weeks before.
And although he has obviously accepted the chance to fight, less than a month to try and recover from a brutal war against Volkov to faceoff against arguably one of the best heavyweights of all time is surely going to result in a lack of preparation.
Lewis is a legitimate heavyweight with weight to carry around and the amount of punishment he puts in his body in training and fighting naturally takes its toll more than others.
In perspective, Cormier’s last fight was back in July when he knocked out Stipe Miocic in UFC 226 to win the heavyweight title again.
Cormier looked fast, powerful and very capable of fighting a striker and with enough rest and training, he’s now set to face another lethal slugger in Lewis.
On the other hand, Lewis just battled a striker and has now less than a month to try and turn things around to face a tireless wrestler who also has brutal dirty boxing. These are two completely different styles that Lewis has to unlearn and adjust to come fight night so that immediately puts him in a definite disadvantage.
Furthermore, at 33 years old, Lewis is no longer a young buck who can go at will. He’s certainly had wear and tear in 26 professional fights and with lingering back injuries, who knows what shape he would be in against Cormier.
It is understandable that this opportunity is difficult to pass up as he still has a realistic chance of winning the title. While Cormier has proven he has the chin to take punishment, Lewis’ power may be of a different level and one hit may send Cormier crashing to the ground.
Undeniably, it is still a very good main event and the New York card has been saved. However, with better booking and time management, Lewis’ opportunity and run to the top may have been different and more enjoyable for “The Black Beast.”