UFC 265 — ‘When he hits you, it is totally different’: What it is like dealing with the KO energy of Derrick Lewis


It was Oct. 6, 2018, at T-Cell Area in Las Vegas. Derrick Lewis was shedding badly, on the verge of one of many worst losses of his profession.

Six-foot-7 Russian heavyweight Alexander Volkov was seconds away from victory. So as to add insult to dominance, Volkov was speaking trash midfight. When Lewis’ cornermen have been telling him to “go” and throw extra punches, Volkov would mock them, saying “Go, Derrick! Go!” whereas he landed photographs of his personal.

However with 11 seconds left, Lewis had the ultimate phrase. He walked Volkov down and landed a scorching left-jab, overhand-right mixture. Volkov’s head snapped again, and he fell to the canvas. Lewis completed with punches on the bottom because the referee stopped the battle. Lewis, who calls himself “The Black Beast,” had pulled out one other come-from-behind victory.

“[Volkov] was taunting me that complete battle,” Lewis advised ESPN. “He was attempting to taunt my coaches. As soon as I hit him, and the best way I did it and all the pieces, it was similar to, excellent.

“I lastly awakened on the finish of the battle. I was Beast mode, or no matter, on the finish of the battle and determined, ‘OK, I would like this battle over with.’ And I ended up ending the battle.”

With that win, Lewis earned the primary title shot of his profession, which he misplaced to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 in November 2018.

On Saturday, Lewis will get one other alternative at a belt. He’ll battle the up-and-coming Ciryl Gane in the principle occasion of UFC 265 in Lewis’ adopted hometown of Houston for the interim heavyweight championship. The cardboard is constructed round Lewis, which exhibits his evolution not solely as a fighter but additionally as a preferred determine in blended martial arts.

Alongside the best way, Lewis has developed a loyal following together with his self-deprecating humor and a capability to rally from imminent defeat to knock foes unconscious. Lewis has 4 knockouts within the third spherical or later, and he has three KOs when having a unfavorable strike differential. His 12 KOs/TKOs are tied with Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown for probably the most in UFC historical past, and he’s the all-time chief for knockouts in UFC heavyweight historical past.

“I prefer to knock individuals out,” Lewis mentioned. “I get a excessive off of it. It is an awesome feeling. … It is like the most effective feeling on this planet.”

His opponents describe how Lewis’ punches really feel totally different and the way stunned they’re {that a} 6-foot-3, 260-pound man might be so agile and maintain his energy till the very finish of a battle. The latter trait is one Gane must be cautious of, based on those that have confronted Lewis, as a result of regardless that Gane is a heavy -370 favourite based on Caesars Sportsbook, Lewis is 6-3 as a betting underdog within the UFC.

Responses have been edited for brevity and readability

Daniel Cormier, former UFC heavyweight and light-weight heavyweight champion

Beat Lewis through second-round submission at UFC 230 on Nov. 3, 2018

Derrick could be very highly effective, clearly, in all regards. He hasn’t had the success of a man like Jon Jones or Conor McGregor, however he is a type of guys who is completely free in there. He has no concern. He simply desires to battle, loves preventing. He is tremendously proficient. I feel that is a type of issues individuals miss about Derrick Lewis — how athletically gifted he’s. You aren’t getting to do among the issues Derrick Lewis does and never have elite-level athleticism. There are occasions when he does issues and I am like, “Wow, this huge dude can put this collectively.” It is super.

When he hits you, it is totally different. I used to be holding his leg up, and he was punching me, and I had a black eye for 3 days. That is the facility that he has. A man together with his leg up within the air, about to get taken down, and he is simply throwing punches defensively as a result of I am holding him in that place. When he was punching me, I used to be like, “Wow, this dude hits actually exhausting.” However it’s not even simply the punches. I feel that is what’s lacking in the entire thing. Individuals assume Derrick Lewis simply punches exhausting, however he did a leaping kick and it hit my arm, and I had knots on my arm. It is all the pieces he does. He is a really huge, dense man.

He is a type of guys with that demeanor like, “Oh, I am type of simply right here.” You type of get misplaced within the jokes and him messing round when the fact is, he is a high-level blended martial artist. I feel his battle in opposition to Curtis Blaydes confirmed that after I beat him within the vogue I did; he went again to work. As a result of his wrestling is healthier now. Curtis is an efficient wrestler. We have seen Curtis floor everyone, however he was not capable of take Derrick down. And even when he did get takedowns, he wasn’t capable of maintain him down. He did a superb job of getting again up when he was taken down.

I feel at this level it is time to cease contemplating Derrick Lewis as only a brawler. That knockout of Blaydes was him backing up. He was on his heels when he did that. That is next-level energy — when a man can do this backing up, time that and land the shot that he did to complete Curtis Blaydes. I could not consider it. Not solely did he knock him out, he f—ed him up dangerous. He slept him. Let’s not let that aw-shucks perspective trick you. This man is the actual deal. Gane must be on his recreation or he’ll beat him.

Tony Johnson, ACA heavyweight champion

Beat Lewis through unanimous resolution at Bellator 46 on June 25, 2011

Derrick is tremendous f—ing robust, and he hits so rattling exhausting. Each time he hit me, you would hear it. It gave the impression of frickin’ bricks hitting one another. After that battle, I swear I used to be like a new child. I had like tender spots on my head. I did not practice like I wanted to for that battle, and he taught me a priceless lesson: By no means underestimate anyone.

I feel it was the third spherical. I had his leg. I used to be attempting to take Derrick down. I had the only leg, and he bought some type of angle and hammerfisted me one time. And I felt that. The second time, I felt light-headed. The third time, I used to be like, “Oh s—, I am unable to keep right here any longer.” The dude has energy all through the entire battle. That is why he is so harmful. He is by no means out of it. I bought cracked together with his full punch, too. It did not really feel nice. I seemed like Quasimodo after that battle in my face.

I have been hit by him and Francis Ngannou. I do not know which one hits tougher, Francis or Derrick, however they each hit like frickin’ Mack vehicles. I have been hit by Deontay Wilder. I have been hit by the toughest hitters within the sport. Deontay tops everybody, but it surely’s shut between Francis and Derrick.

Derrick, he do not give a s— about takedowns or kicking you. He desires to knock your head off. He sits down on his punches a bit of extra. Derrick strikes actual nicely for a heavyweight, too. He’ll shock you. You realize he is working as a result of he stopped Curtis Blaydes’ takedowns. He will be an issue.

Justin Frazier, Final Fighter 28 participant

Misplaced to Lewis through first-round TKO at RFA 2 on March 30, 2012

I felt like I used to be doing actually good, however Derrick has a method of type of turning round and wrecking individuals actually quick. I began out actually robust, put him in a nasty place and took his again. I used to be going for a rear-naked choke. And dude simply type of stood up with me on his again like I wasn’t there. His power was loopy. He simply type of manhandled me off to the aspect. We began buying and selling — I knew that was a nasty thought. I knew to not get myself in opposition to the cage, however he did not give me some other selection. Dude hits exhausting. I felt like the very fact I did not fall asleep was a testomony to my chin, as a result of he is put some individuals away.

He is explosive, too. I feel he type of sandbags it. I got here out and I threw this type of setup overhand and I cracked him. And the second I hit him, I went and bought him down and bought full mount. I felt actually snug eight seconds into the spherical being on prime. However I could not do something with him as soon as I bought him there. He was so robust. He simply type of climbed again up. When he explodes, he explodes. He may have been an outstanding defensive finish or one thing within the NFL.

Roy Nelson, UFC and Bellator veteran

Misplaced to Lewis through cut up resolution at UFC Combat Night time: dos Anjos vs. Alvarez on July 7, 2016

He simply does not quit. If you are going to beat him, you have to end him. You are not going to have the ability to skate by. For me, I did all the pieces. I misplaced by cut up resolution as a result of he simply stored on getting up, getting up, getting up, getting up.

I feel the most effective instance is the Alexander Volkov battle. Volkov beat Derrick from one finish of the ring to the opposite finish of the ring for 3 frickin’ rounds. If Volkov would have simply ran for the final minute like everybody else does after they’re preventing a puncher, then Volkov would have received. However he did not, and Derrick knocked him out.

When Derrick fought Travis Browne, Travis Browne was throwing physique kicks. I do not know if Derrick was damage or not, however he was performing like he was. And Travis Browne began throwing extra kicks. Derrick baited him to stroll right into a proper hand. I feel Derrick grabbed his aspect like, “Oh, that damage.” However I do not assume it actually damage.

Rakim Cleveland, PFL veteran

Misplaced to Lewis twice — at Worldwide Gladiator on Nov. 12, 2010 (submission), and Legacy FC 9 on Dec. 16, 2011 (TKO)

The distinction between Derrick and different guys is he at all times has energy. It does not matter if he is drained or he is recent. It stays the identical, it doesn’t matter what. Some guys begin off actually robust and throw actually exhausting. His energy simply stays fixed. It is not one thing that comes out robust at first after which disappears. Not everyone has it.

Viktor Pesta, UFC veteran

Misplaced to Lewis through third-round TKO at UFC 192 on Oct. 3, 2015

What’s so distinctive is he seems to be type of sloppy. However then he at all times comes again and pulls off that nice upset, which might be known as luck or one thing — however he is doing it on a regular basis. Clearly, it is not luck. It is simply one thing … I do not actually perceive how he is doing it — if it is technique or if he is type of like winging it and pulls it off. It’s actually spectacular. I really feel like at any time when individuals ask me, what’s my prediction for his battle; who’s going to win; ought to I guess on him — I can by no means inform. He is so exhausting to guess on or guess in opposition to.

You’d count on Lewis to lack cardio while you have a look at him. That is what I assumed, too. I assumed I might put on him out and end him within the later rounds. He got here out stronger within the later rounds. That is distinctive, too. That may be a part of his technique, simply type of chilling and saving his power. He solely makes use of the power when he looks like he can get one thing out of it. He TKO’d me, but it surely was extra like I used to be so exhausted and he was on prime of me. I wasn’t knocked out. He hit me good. He clearly has energy, however to me it did not really feel like one thing that loopy. I do not assume he has Francis Ngannou type of energy.

“I used to be holding his leg up, and he was punching me, and I had a black eye for 3 days.”

Daniel Cormier

After the primary spherical, I felt actually assured. I felt like he is bought nothing on me. It was like halfway by way of the second spherical after I was beginning to get drained. He is a lot heavier, and to maintain wrestling him and taking him down was exhausting. By the tip of the second spherical, he simply stored getting up. I went for a determined takedown, and it wasn’t very nicely finished. I bought caught on the underside. I assumed I’d simply keep right here and hang around till the tip of the spherical. There have been 20 seconds left or one thing. He simply beat me up so badly that it was nearly stopped on the finish of that spherical.

Derrick has lots of techniques, regardless that he pretends like he does not. He is a self-proclaimed brawler. I feel he is a sensible fighter, and people comebacks are actually well-thought-out. I do not assume they’re swings and attempt to hit one thing. He desires an opponent to really feel snug, after which he strikes exhausting.

Ilir Latifi, UFC veteran

Misplaced to Lewis through unanimous resolution at UFC 247 on Feb. 8, 2020

I feel Derrick Lewis is a fighter who is generally recognized for his knockout energy, however individuals underestimate his expertise and techniques. He’s a fighter who can trip out the storm and are available and end the battle with one punch, but additionally he is very athletic for his dimension. He threw a switch-kick and flying knees in opposition to me — all types of loopy stuff.

I used to be stunned over his pace and athleticism, how nicely he moved. That was spectacular.

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