Derrick Lewis eager for Francis Ngannou title fight

Mar 27, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Francis Ngannou of Cameroon kicks Stipe Miocic in their UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 260 event at UFC APEX on March 27, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Lewis is eager to win — and entertain — in his UFC heavyweight rematch with champion Francis Ngannou tentatively targeted for August.

Lewis (25-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) defeated Ngannou in 2018, but that fight was disparaged as lacking luster, ending in a unanimous decision. This one will be worth the wait.

“It’s gonna be a fun fight,” Lewis told ESPN. “We both learned a lot from that. We both improved since that fight, so it’s gonna have to be a fun fight. Too many rounds are gonna be involved in this fight. It’s gonna be five rounds, so it’s not gonna be five rounds of snooze fest. It’s gonna be five rounds of swinging and banging, so it’s gonna be interesting to see. I’m excited for it.”

UFC president Dana White, after unsuccessfully trying to broker a Jon Jones-Ngannou fight, recognizes Lewis’ candidacy.

Derrick Lewis ‘deserves the Ngannou fight’

Via the Bill Simmons Podcast last week, White said: “We tried to work with Jon, and, you know, we eventually have to move on. Because realistically, in all honesty, Derrick Lewis is the guy who deserves the (Ngannou) fight. … So that’s the fight that should happen and we’ll just roll and do what we do.”

The fight would mark Ngannou’s first title defense, and Lewis believes Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) will falter very early if he comes charging in at him.

“I’ll knock him out in the first exchange,” Lewis said in the ESPN interview. “I almost knocked out Curtis (Blaydes) in the first exchange, too, but he got on that bike and he took off running. I feel that in my heart, especially if he comes out the way he’s been coming out to all his other guys … then I’ll knock him out for sure.”

Although Ngannou was on the heels of his first loss and uncharacteristically hesitant against Lewis, “The Black Beast” holds himself accountable for the lackluster fight.

“I blame myself,” Lewis said. “It really wasn’t his fault. I’m not gonna sit up here and blame him. I’m gonna say it was my fault mostly. I came in that fight in half-assed training … I know what I need to do to really get the job done.”

Jon Jones: $30 million or Plan B with Lewis

Derrick Lewis
Feb 8, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Derrick Lewis (red gloves) fights Ilir Latifi (blue gloves) during UFC 247 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The prospects of a Jones-Ngannou fight aren’t improving.

According to White, Jones’ asking price was $30 million. Jones tweeted at the end of last month: “As of right now I expressed … that anywhere around eight to $10 million would be way too low for a fight of this magnitude. That’s all that has been discussed so far.”

Lewis said he’s good being the UFC’s “Plan B” for Ngannou.

“It’s fine. I don’t care,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I was C. I am happy that they (the UFC) finally came to me.”

–Field Level Media

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