Two of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most powerful men are set to collide in a heavyweight bout on July 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when Francis Ngannou faces Derrick Lewis.
Ngannou (11-2) had a breakout year in 2017, with victories over Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem before earning a title shot against Stipe Miocic in January. Fight fans were confident his power would be too much for the champion, but Miocic nullified his power, handing Ngannou his first professional loss since 2013.
Lewis (19-5, 1 NC) is coming off a third round TKO against Marcin Tybura in February this year. “The Black Beast” had previously amassed six straight victories to make waves in the UFC heavyweight division before being stopped in June last year by another power puncher in Mark Hunt. He will be hoping to put together another streak with a win against Ngannou.
Lewis recently talked with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” and explained how excited he is to test his power against Ngannou.
“It is crazy. I felt the same way when I fought ‘Big Country’ [Roy Nelson], because seeing ‘Big Country’ fight everybody, knock everybody out -- then it’s like a dream come true whenever I finally fought him,” Lewis said Monday on The MMA Hour. “It’s going to feel almost the same way fighting Francis. A guy like him beating everybody, knocking everybody out, then finally facing him -- I just live for that type of rush, that thrill, because I don’t call anybody out that I know I could easily beat.
“I like to fight tough fights. I believe the tough fights bring out the better fighter in myself.”
Lewis believes the reason for Ngannou’s success is that he has faced fighters who were over the hill and prone to knockouts.
“Beating on Francis is really not going to really do too much for me anyway, because the guy got to where he’s at right now on luck,” Lewis said. “He fought Overeem -- Overeem doesn’t have a chin. He fought Arlovski -- Arlovski doesn’t have a chin. Fight somebody that’s tough. Fight a Mark Hunt, somebody like that who’s real tough. Don’t fight these old guys who are already on the downside of their career.”