Although he walked out of UFC Fight Night with his fourth straight victory, Derrick Lewis was not pleased with the way that triumph was achieved.
Nullified for long periods of time by Roy Nelson’s grappling-centric approach, Lewis pieced together just enough offense to eke out a split-decision triumph in Thursday’s heavyweight co-main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I’ve never gone to decision, so I assumed I’d lose,” Lewis said at the post-fight press conference. “I wasn’t even listening to the cards. I wanted to finish in the first round.”
Lewis had gone to decision twice in his pre-UFC days, dropping unanimous verdicts to Tony Johnson and Shawn Jordan early in his career. However all six of his Octagon triumphs, as well as his two defeats, ended before the final bell, making the matchup relatively uncharted territory for “The Black Beast.”
Early on, it appeared as though Lewis was well on his way to yet another quick finish. He bruised the midsection of his opponent with powerful knees and kicks, and it was clear from there that Nelson wanted no part of an extended standup battle. Instead, “Big Country” relied on his often underutilized grappling, as he pressed Lewis against the cage and landed a career-high seven takedowns.
Nelson was unable to keep Lewis grounded, however, and a late third-round restart by referee John McCarthy allowed Lewis to unleash one final salvo that likely helped him clinch two of the three cageside scorecards.
“I was surprised at how tough Roy Nelson is. I believe he has the toughest chin in the UFC and he took everything I’ve got in that first round,” Lewis said. “I felt I took his shots well and he did well to take me down. It’s intense with Roy on top of you, but I managed to get up and look for a finish. I wanted that finish and just kept throwing when we were standing, but he’s tough.”
While Lewis’ current winning streak ties him with Alistair Overeem for the longest active run in the heavyweight division, he isn’t quite ready to move on to bigger and better things. Instead, he wants another opportunity to put Nelson away.
“This is for sure going to eat at me. I know damn sure I can finish him in the first round,” he said. “It hurts a little bit.”
“I still want a rematch. I promised my fans a finish. It is what it is but I want a rematch real soon.”