UFC 230: Big Fight Preview Cormier vs Lewis
By Jon Prentice
We are now just a few hours out from the UFC’s latest showing at Madison Square Garden, New York, where the UFC heavyweight title will be on the line as the champ champ and pound for pound number one Daniel Cormier (21-1 1NC) defends his belt against Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (21-5 1NC) at UFC 230.
The UFC 230 card has taken a number of injury hits in the build up to the event, with the heavyweight title main event only coming together on very short notice following Lewis’ win over Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 on October 6th 2018.
The previously announced main event of Valentina Shevchenko vs Sijara Eubanks for the flyweight title was not well received by the MMA community and eventually scrapped, leading to the UFC calling on Cormier and Lewis to step up and take the main event slot. Here is a look at the history between the two, how the fight came about and what we can expect come Saturday night:
The History –
To be honest, there is little history between the two fighters, with both being mostly respectful to one another throughout their time in the UFC. The only “animosity” involving the two came at the UFC 226 press conference following Cormier’s win over Stipe Miocic. Cormier explained that Lewis had stated backstage that he would “knock him out” and that he was “a lot smaller” than he thought he would be. When pressed as to why he had “beef” with Cormier, Lewis, in his typical joking fashion, exclaimed that it was “because he disrespected Popeyes Chicken on a commercial” a few years prior.
With the fight being arranged on such short notice, trash talk in the build up has been kept to a minimum as both fighters have been focusing their attention to the upcoming challenge at hand.
The Journey to UFC 230 –
As previously mentioned, this fight has not been one that was long in the making, in fact it has been the complete opposite. The fight was only announced a few weeks ago, giving the fighters approximately four weeks to prepare for one another.
Daniel Cormier comes into the title as the double champion, holding both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. He most recently defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 226 in July, knocking the then champion out in the first round to become one of a very select few to hold belts in two weight classes. Prior to that he defended the light heavyweight belt to Volkan Oezdemir in a two round mauling at UFC 220. DC did suffer a loss to Jon Jones in their second clash which came prior to the Oezdemir scrap, however, following Jones’ failed drugs test the bout was overturned to a No Contest and Cormier was reinstated as the champion.
The former Olympic Freestyle Wrestler and Strikeforce Grand Prix winner has only suffered one defeat in his whole career, when he dropped a decision to bitter rival Jon Jones in their original match up at UFC 182 in 2015. At 21-1 and holding the belt in two weight classes, he rightfully heads into the bout as the pound for pound number one fighter in the world.
Derrick Lewis enters the contest on the back of a three fight win streak, defeating Marcin Tybura, Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov leading up to this clash. Finishing 18 of his 21 wins by KO/TKO, ten of which are in the UFC which ties the record with Cain Velasquez for most knockout wins in the division, Lewis is one of the scariest opponents in the world.
He has shown time and time again that he has true heart and power that can hurt opponents late into fights, as seen on a number of occasions where Lewis has come from behind to deliver a huge knockout blow. This was evidenced in his fight last month against Volkov whereby he pretty much lost 14 minutes and 45 seconds of the 15 minute bout, but with the clock ticking towards the final bell he delivered a thunderous right hand that put Volkov down and shortly after the ref was waiving the fight off with Lewis getting the come from behind win with just 11 seconds remaining.
Lewis has lost five time previously and has been finished on three occasions in his career, most recently against legend, and fellow deadly, striker Mark Hunt in the main event of UFC Auckland in June 2017. That loss is the sole blemish on his record in his last ten fights, with seven of the fights ending in a knockout win for Lewis.
The story of Lewis’ career is a very interesting and inspirational one. He served several years in prison when he was younger, turning to mixed martial arts upon his release. Having started his career brightly he worked his way to the UFC via a number of regional promotions and a short stint with Bellator. Lewis has gained a huge fan following along the way to the title shot, mainly thanks to his laid back approach and humorous interviews, but partly thanks to news that he reportedly helped to evacuate over 100 people in Houston, Texas following the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, a feat seen as heroic by many.
The bookies have Cormier as a heavy favourite going into the match up, with odds earlier this week as:
Lewis has never in his career been as big an underdog going into a fight as this one, with this also being the most Cormier has been favoured since his UFC debut against Pat Cummins in 2014.
Realistically, Cormier has the much better skills set, cardio and fight IQ over Lewis, but you can never rule “The Black Beast” out with his inhumane knockout power. It wouldn’t be surprised to see Cormier clinch early and try to utilise his wrestling to get the fight to the mat as soon as possible. Lewis’ cardio has always been questionable despite his ability to knock people out late in fights. Following the Volkov win he stated himself in his post fight interview that he was not physically ready for a shot at Cormier’s belt, so I would imagine DC will try to exploit this.
I expect a grinding display from DC, taking Lewis down frequently and holding him there trying to tire him out before getting a submission win around round three or early round four. For me, Lewis only has a punchers chance at winning, however as we have seen with him before that’s all it takes. That is what makes this fight so interesting come Saturday night!