Scouting Report: Derrick Lewis

Derrick Lewis

Born: February 7, 1985 (Age: 37) in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Division: Heavyweight
Height: 6’3”
Reach: 79”
Record: 26-10 (1 NC)
Association: Main Street Boxing and Muay Thai
Stage of Career: Post-Prime

Summary: Lewis is a truly unique fighter, one only possible in the heavyweight division. He has huge defensive weaknesses, large grappling holes, below average cardio, a fairly weak chin, and sometimes makes huge blunders during his fights. And yet, thanks to his superb hooks and one of the very best uppercuts in the sport's history, as well as endless toughness and perseverance, he has had a very good career and is always dangerous, win or lose. Notably, no matter how badly beaten up or fatigued he is, Lewis can knock an opponent out with his hands, which he has shown time and time again throughout his career. Unfortunately, age and injuries have caught up with him, leaving his defense and chin increasingly vulnerable, as recent defeats to Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich have shown.


Stance: Orthodox.
Hand Speed: Average.
Jab: Decent, but rarely uses it, prioritizing power punches.
Cross: Decent, but prioritizes powerful hooks over this punch.
Left Hook: Great; one-punch knockout power with nice technique and plenty of accuracy, though it can be slightly wide.
Overhand Right: Similar to the left hook, but even better, with slightly more accuracy. A fantastic shot.
Overhand Right: Great; insane power, good technique, and accurate, similar to his hooks.
Uppercuts: All-time great; tremendously powerful, technical and even fairly fast. He is especially good at timing his opponent's ducks with his right uppercut, as illustrated by his beautiful instant knockout of Curtis Blaydes.
Solitary Striker or Volume Puncher: Throws very nice punches in bunches.
Favorite Combinations: Loves to throw one hook after the other, in either order.
Leg kicks: A mixed bag; they're plenty powerful, but also telegraphed, making it possible to counter him.
Body kicks: Similar properties to his leg kicks.
Head kicks: Very showy, but has never caught a half-decent heavyweight and likely never will, as they're incredibly telegraphed.
Chains Kicks to Punches: No.
Knees: Showed a nice flying knee that hurt Latifi, that might be a weapon since his weight loss, but this is unfortunately counteracted by his advancing age and injuries.

Lewis' striking is centered around his fantastic hooks and one of the best right uppercuts in MMA history. His hooks are tremendously hard, with one-punch knockout power in either hand, and very technical and accurate. He rarely uses the jab or even the right cross, and against certain skilled strikers, that is a liability. He also throws nice punches in bunches and a flying knee, though I wish he had developed the latter weapon earlier in his career. His kicks aren't much to worry about; the ones to the legs and body are plenty powerful, but they're also telegraphed. His head kick looks fancy but is incredibly telegraphed and thus easy to avoid. The most worrying aspects of Lewis’ striking are in his defense. It was always average at best and has become increasingly porous over the years in conjunction with his chin becoming much weaker; a recipe for disaster, especially against opponents like Tuivasa and Pavlovich.


Physical Strength: Good.
Technique: Average.
Knees: Excellent; nice, hard knees to the body and a great knee to the head when given an opportunity, possessing proper technique and tremendous power.
Elbows: Good; they are short, powerful, and have some accuracy.
Defense Against Knees/Elbows: Average, in part because his midsection is so vulnerable to blows.

Lewis can be a dangerous striker in the clinch too, especially with his excellent knees. They're good enough to the body, but are especially dangerous if he gets an opportunity to strike the head. He has a nice short elbow as well, but is at some risk to get taken down due to his average technique with his body position in various grappling exchanges as well as how vulnerable his body is to blows.


Wrestling from a Shot: Poor; has a really weird attempt at a type of side pickup and slam he kept going for against Alexander Volkov, but with no success.
Wrestling in the Clinch: Average. Completed a double-leg against Ivanov and hip-tossed Oleynik, though both foes likely welcomed the opportunity to go to the ground.
Takedown Defense: At least slightly above average; he can be taken down as a counter to his strikes, as well as in the clinch. In more recent outings, Blagoy Ivanov caught a kick and took down an exhausted Lewis with an outside trip. Lewis did stuff Latifi's attempts in Round 1 and showed solid balance, although Latifi did take him down with a beautiful body lock into outside trip and then a double-leg pick-up and slam in a clinch against the cage.
Ability to Return to Feet: Good. Can hip-escape, though it can take a while, and is also good at kicking off the cage. Often waits for his opponent to try to improve position to make his move, which works effectively sometimes. Can sometimes give up his back when getting back up, though.
Submissions: Practically non-existent at his current level. Has one career submission all the way back in 2010 but hasn't even attempted one in years.
Defense/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from the Bottom: Decent. Often tries to stall from the bottom, although as noted above, he is good at recognizing when an opponent is trying to advance position and making a move to get up. There is something to be said for only being submitted once in his long career, by the great Daniel Cormier, and that's despite facing many good and even great grapplers. At the very least, he is excellent at gritting out some deep submission attempts.
Top Control: Weak, and he can even be swept, as Alexey Oleynik hit him with a nifty half-guard sweep into a single-leg.
Ground-and-Pound: Great, with vicious, accurate punches and elbows. The trouble is that he is rarely on top for long unless he is finishing off an opponent.

Lewis has better grappling than most give him credit for. Offensively, he actually has some wrestling in the clinch, able to complete a double-leg against Ivanov and a nice hip toss against Oleynik. His top control is weak, and he can be swept, but he has fantastic ground-and-pound if allowed to stay there. Defensively, his takedown defense is slightly above average, though plenty of fighters have taken him down. However, he is very stubborn and gritty on the ground. He is good at getting up through a variety of means, with a solid hip-escape and a very nifty kick off the cage. He also times when opponents are trying to advance position for his moves back to the feet. He is surprisingly difficult to submit or even ground-and-pound effectively, despite having faced a slew of excellent grapplers.


Athleticism and general physical strength: Pretty good; fairly strong and has at least some athleticism if his jumping kicks are anything to go by, but often lacks foot-speed and fluidity, which shows he lacks in this area, too.
Cardio: Since his weight loss, this has improved to be merely below average. He was noticeably winded midway through Round 2 in a decently energetic fight with Ivanov, though he never outright gassed, and even finished strong at the very end. Was never winded against Latifi in a slow-paced, low-energy affair.
Chin: Mediocre, especially now, being badly hurt by any solid connect. This would be even lower if one considers how weak he is to body blows, being badly hurt there by Volkov and then almost incapacitated by a spinning back kick from Junior dos Santos that shouldn't have been a quarter as devastating as it was.
Recuperative Powers: Below average, as he is normally done if he is badly hurt, but still incredibly dangerous even in those circumstances thanks to his power.
Intelligence: Average. Makes some bizarre blunders, like choosing to clinch and grapple with Oleynik, literally his opponent’s only chance to win, and almost being submitted for it. On the other hand, one has to give him credit for having such a long, successful career and defeating so many more talented foes with such a limited game and so many large weaknesses.
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