Rivalries: Derrick Lewis

By Brian Knapp Aug 5, 2021

Derrick Lewis stands on the precipice of potential greatness.

The 6-foot-3, 263-pound behemoth will square off with the unbeaten Ciryl Gane for the interim Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title in the UFC 265 main event this Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston. To the winner goes a blockbuster unification bout with reigning champion Francis Ngannou—a man Lewis defeated in 2018. “The Black Beast” owns a stellar 16-5 record across his 21 appearances inside the Octagon and steps out for his latest assignment on the heels a four-fight winning streak.

As Lewis make final preparations for his hotly anticipated encounter with Gane, a look at a few of the rivalries that have helped shape his career to this point:

Shawn Jordan

“The Savage” disposed of Lewis with hook kick and follow-up punches in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 68 rematch on June 6, 2015 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Jordan—who had also beaten the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder in their first meeting five years prior—brought it to a close 48 seconds into Round 2 and improved to 2-0 in their head-to-head series. The American Top Team rep slowed Lewis with multiple takedowns in the first round, methodically draining his gas tank. Jordan’s chin held up remarkably well during the standup exchanges, though “The Black Beast” managed to open a cut near his left eye during a violent flurry late in Round 1. Less than a minute into the middle stanza, Jordan cracked his counterpart with an exquisite reverse hook kick and trailed him to the mat. He quickly climbed to mount and then advanced to Lewis’ back, putting him away with unanswered punches and hammerfists. Jordan remains the only man to defeat Lewis twice.

Travis Browne

“The Black Beast” withstood an all-out assault on his body to knock Browne senseless in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 105 main event on Feb. 19, 2017 at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lewis closed it out 3:12 into Round 2, as he resumed his scorched-earth policy inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s heavyweight division. Browne blew his chance. “Hapa” had Lewis clutching his gut and shying away from contact after a series of kicks and knees to the body in the first round. Browne let the brick-fisted New Orleans native off the hook and later encountered an overhand right that sent him to the canvas and perhaps gave him reason for pause. The one-minute respite between rounds did wonders for Lewis, who floored the 6-foot-7 Hawaiian twice in Round 2. After the second knockdown, he pounced with devastating right hands and pounded Browne unconscious before referee Mario Yamasaki arrived on the scene.

Mark Hunt

The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner kept his name relevant in the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight division, as he turned away Lewis with punches in the fourth round of their UFC Fight Night 110 headliner on June 10, 2017 at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Lewis succumbed to blows 3:51 into Round 4, his six-fight winning streak at an end. Hunt denied all three of his adversary’s takedown attempts and slowly increased the pace and intensity of his strikes. He outlanded Lewis 16-10 in the third round and 24-13 in the fourth. Late in Round 4, Hunt pushed his fading counterpart to the fence and unleashed a string of punches and elbows. Lewis doubled over and did not respond to referee Marc Goddard’s calls to fight back, prompting the stoppage.

Curtis Blaydes

Lewis took a massive step forward in a bid for another Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title shot, as he knocked out the Elevation Fight Team star in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 185 main event on Feb. 20, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “The Black Beast” drew it to an emphatic and frightening close 1:26 into Round 2. Blaydes enjoyed some early success with a penetrating jab and thudding leg kicks but struggled to safely close the distance. He ducked into an uppercut in the second round, froze where he stood and collapsed backward. Lewis trailed his defenseless opponent to the canvas and slammed two right hands into his exposed face before referee Herb Dean could intervene.
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