The underdog role suited Derrick Lewis just fine.
The former Legacy Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder scored the biggest upset at UFC 192 -- he was a +150 underdog, according to BetDSI.com -- on Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston. Lewis stopped Viktor Pesta (-170) on a third-round technical knockout to kick off the event.
Lewis’ lack of grappling experience and a suspect chin likely led the oddsmakers to favor Pesta. The Czech’s clinch work and ground-and-pound proved fruitful in the first round, but Lewis responded in the second with heavy punches and some ground-and-pound of his own. By the time the third round started, Pesta had nothing left in the gas tank.
“Once he stood up,” Lewis said during a post-fight interview, “I knew he didn’t have no fight left in him.”
Lewis sprawled out of a takedown to start round three, assumed top position and climbed to mount, throwing punches until referee Kerry Hatley had seen enough. According to the 30-year-old Houston native, all went according to plan.
“I wanted him to wear his self out, so all my cards was on the third round, on finishing in the third,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t frustrated at all [by what happened in the first round]. I wanted to finish him in the third round, no matter what, and it worked out best for me.”
Meanwhile, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was only a slight favorite, at -140, over Power MMA Team’s Ryan Bader (+120) in the co-main event. However, the fact that “Suga” had spent 686 days on the sidelines with a knee injury proved problematic. Bader’s speed, snappy combinations in the standup and a few timely takedowns earned him a 30-27 decision on all three scorecards. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner has won five straight fights, beating Evans, Phil Davis, Ovince St. Preux, Rafael Cavalcante and Anthony Perosh in succession.
Finally, many thought durable M-1 Global veteran Islam Makhachev (-130) would be too slick in the clinch and on the ground for Adriano Martins (+110) to handle. Makhachev did, after all, enter the cage with a perfect 12-0 record. It only took 1:46 for the American Top Team rep to catch Makhachev with a counter right hook right on the button. Martins, a former Jungle Fight champion, took home a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus for his efforts. The 32-year-old Brazilian has won nine of his last 10 fights, losing only to Donald Cerrone.