Derrick Lewis, 36, is currently ranked #4 in the UFC heavyweight division. He fights #2 ranked Curtis Blaydes in the main event of UFC Vegas 19 on Saturday night. #1 contender Francis Ngannou rematches division champion Stipe Miocic in the main event of UFC 260 on March 27.
Although Jon Jones is waiting in the wings for the winner of Miocic vs. Ngannou II, if Lewis wins, pushing his streak to four, it's not crazy that he will get a title shot. Although Lewis fought once for the title, a submission loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 on November 3, 2018, he can't wrap his head around the idea that he could become champion.
“That would be crazy,” said Lewis at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. “That would be really crazy for a guy like me, going through all the stuff that I went through, and becoming UFC champion, heavyweight champion of the world. That’s just crazy to even put in the same sentence as my name: ‘Derrick Lewis, heavyweight champion of the world.’
“It just felt even crazy when they announced I have the all-time knockouts in the UFC compared to all the thousands of other guys who fought before me and all the big knockout artists that they had. It’s crazy that I’m the No. 1 guy now. It’s like crazy, especially how I used to approach the sport, not even really taking it seriously. To even be this far in my career is just so crazy.”
Lewis has two fights left on his contract, and the league typically renegotiates a new contract with one fight left, so a win could result in a better contract.
“Even if it’s not a significant bump, that’s fine,” said the ever-affable Lewis. “It’d be great if I could get a significant bump. I’m not gonna even say any more about it. But yeah, it’d be great. … I’m really going into this fight because I have one more fight on my contract after this one. I have to perform [like] I’ve never performed before, especially if I want a better contract than I have right now. I’m going into this fight like it’s going to be my last shot at the UFC. I have to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities.”
Blaydes is a strong favorite in the fight, and has only lost to Francis Ngannou, twice. However, while no one in MMA hits as "The Predator," Lewis isn't too far behind, and does hold the KO record. UG, what do you think the odds are that "The Black Beast" takes it? For the record, Lews is predicting a Round 1 KO.