Matches to Make After UFC Fight Night 174

By Brian Knapp Aug 9, 2020

Derrick Lewis called down the thunder once he realized he was in legitimate danger.

“The Black Beast” set the Ultimate Fighting Championship record for knockouts by a heavyweight, as he put away Alexey Oleynik with punches in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 174 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Oleynik wilted under an avalanche of ground-and-pound 21 seconds into Round 2.

Lewis danced with the devil for much of the first round, as he closed the distance on “The Boa Constrictor,” executed a takedown and engaged him on the ground. Oleynik reversed into top position and tightened his squeeze on a scarf hold, then moved toward a keylock in the closing seconds. Lewis at the start of Round 2 followed a flying knee to the chest with a right hook that dropped the 2005 combat sambo world champion where he stood. Oleynik fought to stay lucid, only to be met with a volley of hammerfists and right hands that resulted in the stoppage.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Lewis vs. Oleynik,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Derrick Lewis vs. Curtis Blaydes: Lewis has his warts, but no one can argue with the sustained success he has enjoyed inside the Octagon. In addition to setting the all-time mark for knockouts (11) by a heavyweight, the New Orleans native moved into a third-place tie with Junior dos Santos for most wins (15) in the division’s history. On a three-fight winning streak, Lewis’ next assignment figures to come against another top-tier heavyweight. Blaydes certainly fits the description. The Elevation Fight Team export last competed at UFC on ESPN 11, where he took a unanimous decision from former Bellator MMA champion Alexander Volkov on June 20.

Chris Weidman vs. Marvin Vettori: Questions remain regarding his long-term viability in a division he once ruled, but Weidman can at least exhale after outlasting Omari Akhmedov to a unanimous decision in the three-round co-headliner. All three judges sided with the former middleweight champion: 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28. Weidman fought through fatigue and made a strong closing argument in the third round, where the two-time NCAA All-American wrestler climbed to full mount, deployed elbow strikes to the head and hunted an arm-triangle choke. The win was his first since July 22, 2017 and halted a two-fight losing streak. Vettori last appeared at UFC on ESPN 10 in June, when he submitted Karl Roberson with a first-round rear-naked choke.

Darren Stewart vs. Zak Cummings-Alessio Di Chirico winner: Stewart flexed his ancillary skills and secured the first submission win of his career, as he tapped Hawaiian power hitter Maki Pitolo with a guillotine choke in the first round of their middleweight showcase. Pitolo conceded defeat 3:41 into Round 1. After an inauspicious start to his UFC tenure, Stewart has recorded five victories across his last six outings inside the Octagon, establishing a foothold where footing was once tenuous. “The Dentist,” who turns 30 in December, appears to be trending in the right direction. Cummings and Di Chirico will lock horns at UFC Fight Night 175 on Aug. 29.

Beneil Dariush vs. Islam Makhachev: Stock in Dariush continues to surge following his sensational knockout of Scott Holtzman in the first round of their lightweight feature. Holtzman, who had never before been finished, bowed out 4:38 into Round 1 after his close encounter with a spinning backfist turned forearm strike. Dariush has rattled off five straight wins, four of them finishes, since he was victimized by Alexander Hernandez in a stunning March 2018 upset. Has the Kings MMA product finally turned the proverbial corner? Makhachev, 28, has not fought since he laid claim to a unanimous decision over Davi Ramos and improved to 18-1 at UFC 242 in September.

Tim Means vs. Mounir Lazzez: A rejuvenated Means rebounded from his Feb. 15 submission defeat to Daniel Rodriguez with a unanimous decision over Laureano Staropoli in the featured welterweight prelim. The former King of the Cage champion carried all three scorecards: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. Means controlled the cage, picked his shots—he floored the Argentinian with a head kick in the second round—and employed a stifling clinch once fatigue became a factor. “The Dirty Bird” has alternated wins and losses in each of his last five outings. Lazzez dazzled in his promotional debut at UFC on ESPN 13, where he cruised to a unanimous decision against Abdul Razak Alhassan and moved to 10-1 as a pro on July 15.

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