After a perfectly-timed uppercut sent Curtis Blaydes tumbling to the canvas like a sack of potatoes, Derrick Lewis punctuated his UFC Fight Night 185 victory with a little something extra.
With Blaydes already unconscious, “The Black Beast” dove in to land two brutal shots of ground-and-pound in a follow-up reminiscient of what Dan Henderson did to Michael Bisping at UFC 100 in July 2009. It was also a reminder of just how brutal this sport can be.
When asked about the final two punches, Lewis defended his actions in typical humorous fashion with a WWE reference, while also pointing out that it’s the referee’s job to say when the fight is over.
“I can’t just turn the switch off just like that,” Lewis said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “Some fighters can do that, but I can’t do it. I have to wait until the referee pulled me off because you never know what could happen. Anything could happen. He could’ve turned into the Undertaker and stood straight up and eat all those shots. You never know. You go until the referee says, ‘Chill out.’”
Heading into Saturday night, Lewis was a significant underdog against Blaydes, who appeared to be on the path to title contention in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Blaydes fought well in the opening round, outlanding his opponent in a frame that was contested entirely on the feet. Of course, that’s not Blaydes’ bread and butter. The Elevation Fight Team product is the all-time heavyweight leader in takedowns and was coming off a bout in which he grounded Alexander Volkov a whopping 14 times.
“At the end of the first round I’m like, ‘He’s messing up, he’s messing up. That’s what I was saying in my head,” Lewis said. “His coach was trying to pump his head up, ‘Good, good. You’re doing good.’ I’m like, ‘All right, keep playing that game.’ That’s what I was saying to myself. The second round came, and I knew he was going to try to come out and stand up a little bit, and then he was trying to shoot. So I just had to be patient.”
As it turned out, Lewis had the perfect counter to Blaydes’ level change in the second stanza. It was a product of a central focus throughout his camp.
“All I was waiting on was just for him to shoot. Was just waiting for him to shoot and nothing else,” Lewis said. “We knew it was coming .. that’s what we’ve been drilling all month. Twelve weeks, really. Trying to get prepared for that guy.”
Lewis, who is now tied with Vitor Belfort for the most knockouts in promotion history with 12, is currently on a four-bout winning streak and looks to be one of the top contenders in his weight class. However, he isn’t necessarily interested in a heavyweight title shot. Instead, Lewis is angling for a showdown with Alistair Overeem, who is coming off a lopsided second-round TKO loss to Alexander Volkov on Feb. 6.
“I don’t care [about his loss] … It’d be cool just to fight him, because he’s a so-called legend,” Lewis said. “So it’d be cool to fight somebody like that. And also, he’s been talking trash. He’s been saying his teammate, Curtis, could handle this lightweight. We’ve been trying to fight him for years, and he turned down the fight four times already.”
In his ideal scenario, Lewis wouldn’t face Overeem at the top of a UFC card. The Houston native would much rather prepare for a three-round fight than a five-round fight.
“I don’t need no main event,” he said. “I don’t deserve no main event. I don’t want to go five rounds. I hate five rounds. My body is like, ‘Man, keep f—-ing around, we’re going to retire your ass.’ But I hate five rounds.”
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