Standing 6-foot-3 and cutting weight to make the 265 pound heavyweight limit, Derrick Lewis is one of the most intimidating men to compete in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Even more frightening is the notion that we haven’t really seen everything he can do. The man known as “The Black Beast” has been dealing with a well-documented chronic back injury throughout his UFC career which has hindered his performances inside the Octagon.
From the outside, it’s hard to see how much Lewis’ back issues have affected him, as he has won eight of his last nine fights and racked up six knockouts in the process. Behind the scenes it’s a different story, as his injuries mean the knockout artist enters fights with little to no energy and is unable to train like other fighters.
Recently, Lewis was given some injections to manage the pain in his back and he claims the results have been promising so far.
"It made a big difference," Lewis told FloCombat. "I'm always thinking that I'm going to have those problems, and it doesn't bother me at all. It's just weird what I'm going through. I've been dealing with it for years. Now that it's not even bothering me anymore, I'm always thinking it's still going to pop up sooner or later and it hasn't yet."
Recent blood work undertaken ahead of his next fight against Alexander Volkov which takes next month on October 6 at UFC 229 revealed that the heavyweight has an unusually low testosterone level.
"I got my testosterone test done this week [with] my blood work and they told me my score was like a 399. My score is real low," Lewis said. "It's supposed to be around 1,000 or more. I've got low T, so I've got real low testosterone."
Lewis also revealed that doctors discovered a number of blockages around his stomach and has been given a form of laxative medication to flush his body so he can start burning fat again.
"They have me taking some type of stuff that helps me take a crap," Lewis said. "They said I've got too much around my stomach and it's blocking the good protein to get in there. So they're making me take these pills so I can sh*t all this stuff out that's around my stomach and I can start getting the right nutrients in my body.
"My body will start burning the fat,” Lewis added. “My doctor said right now my body is not burning fat because of this."
In a worrying sign for others in the heavyweight division, Lewis admitted that’s been low on energy in every fight over the last few years despite the fact he’s been knocking people out.
"Even two years ago I did an interview, I believe it was after the [Shamil Abdurakhimov] fight, [and said] I don't have any energy going in there," Lewis said. "My energy level was super low. It's always low right before the fight. The only time I had high energy was before I fought Gabriel Gonzaga and whenever I fought [Damian] Grabowski—that's the only times I had high energy.
"Other than that, I'm always having low energy," Lewis continued. Now that his injuries have been addressed and he’s firing on all cylinders, he’s ready to show the rest of the division his true potential.
When asked what level he was fighting at health-wise in his last few fights, Lewis provided a surprising response.
"I believe it was probably like 70 percent," Lewis remarked said. "No lie. Seventy percent. I haven't even really been able to train a full round or anything during camp.
"It's just crazy how much stuff that's out there since I'm in this sport and I've got to take care of my body. It's crazy. There's a lot of stuff out there. We'll see how everything plays out."