UFC Fight Night – will Derrick Lewis find redemption on the last card of 2021?


We have reached the finish line of another remarkable year for the UFC. According to Dana White, 2021 was the most lucrative year in the company’s history.

Saturday’s UFC Fight Night inside the Apex will be tasked with saluting this very memorable year. And as we all know, a “perfect ending” can be a difficult thing to achieve. Movies, TV sitcoms, professional sports seasons – they don’t always do it. So, did the UFC pull off its 2021 final?

At first glance, a main heavyweight event between Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus isn’t the most scintillating headliner to wrap up 2021. But I’ll say this: What this fight does is deliver the one of the game’s most popular fighters, Lewis, a hit at payback time before the end of the calendar year.

Lewis (25-8) last fought in August, when he was knocked out by Ciryl Gane at UFC 265. This fight was for an interim heavyweight championship, and it took place in Houston, Lewis’s hometown. He also revealed, this week alone, that the fight took place 13 years ago. to the day since his release from prison at the age of 23, before MMA changed his life.

I remember being in Houston for UFC 265 and seeing how Lewis handled the pressure he put on his shoulders for this fight. For a guy who always said he wasn’t in this sport to be the best, and who lowered his skills more than he talked about, it was obvious how much Lewis wanted this win. He wanted it for his city, for his family – and I think a lot for himself too.

Loss is always a difficult pill to swallow. But most fighters will tell you that losing is a lot worse when you feel like you haven’t been in your best shape. And that’s what Lewis thinks about this title fight. He admitted this week that the pressure had come to him. He had a game plan to deal with Gane’s unique style, he said, but he didn’t perform anything once in the cage.

Lewis is one of the cutest figures in sports because he’s honest, open, funny, and relatable (and, of course, because he hits like a ton of bricks). It’s not hard for anyone to relate to Lewis’ experience in his last fight. The timing and the pressure had an impact on him. He wants to move on. He actually wanted this fight against Daukaus much earlier than the date he was booked.

The stakes aren’t as high for Lewis on Saturday as they were in his last fight, but after his frustrating hometown experience four months ago, you can see what this one means to him.

Watch UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Daukaus Saturday on ESPN +. Main card starts at 7 p.m. ET with preliminaries at 4 p.m.

Matching numbers: 12 to 4

12 UFC KOs for Lewis: This ties him to Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown for the most in UFC history. Four of the knockouts have come with Lewis as the betting underdog, including when he was +350 earlier this year against Curtis Blaydes. Lewis is a +120 underdog for Saturday.

4 KO UFC for Daukaus: He’s only fought four times in the UFC – all knockout, three in the first round. Daukaus is looking to become the fourth fighter to start a career in the UFC with five consecutive knockouts; he would join Don Frye, Junior dos Santos and Ricco Rodriguez.

Sources: ESPN statistics and information and UFC statistics

And the winner is …

“I think this Daukaus kid weighs around 235, 240 pounds on the day of the weigh-in. Lewis goes to 265. You can have between 30 and 45 pounds of weight difference on fight night,” said Eric Nicksick, Xtreme trainer. Couture MMA in Las Vegas. “I feel like when Lewis is on top of people he’s decimated from guys. A lot of his finishes are top level TKOs and pounds. So I think Lewis could get the upper hand. be an X factor. I don’t. know if Derrick will come out and struggle, but if he throws a knockdown, can get into a body lock, get tangled up and end up on top, that’s not a bad thing for him.”

Find out how Nicksick and other experts break down the main event and predict a winner.

Don’t forget to stay after the main event …

… because Derrick Lewis usually says something funny.



Derrick Lewis doesn’t realize he’s being interviewed by Paul Felder and tells the crew member backstage that he needs to use the bathroom.

Ian Parker’s best bet

Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus: Driving a winning street of five fights, all by TKO / KO, Daukaus will get his toughest competition yet. Lewis, an artist in his own right, just lost to Ciryl Gane in an interim title fight in August. To get back on track, Lewis is going to have to dodge an early assault from Daukaus, then land his own big right hand. Both men will be looking to make a statement, and with both possessing extreme knockout power, I don’t see this fight pass round two. Take: Daukaus or Lewis in less than 2.5 laps.

How to watch the fights

Stream the main map and preliminaries on ESPN: Download the ESPN app

Don’t have ESPN +? Get it here.

There is also FightCenter, which offers live updates for every UFC card.

Saturday fight card

ESPN +, 7 p.m. ET
Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus
Welterweight: Stephen Thompson vs. Belal Muhammad
Strawweight: Amanda Lemos vs. Angela Hill
Men’s bantamweight: Raphael Assunção vs. Ricky Simón
Lightweight: Diego Ferreira vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Men’s Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins
ESPN +, 4 p.m. ET
Middleweight: Dustin Stoltzfus vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Men’s bantamweight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Victor Henry
Heavyweight: Justin Tafa vs. Harry Hunsucker
Flyweight women: Sijara Eubanks against Melissa Gatto
Men’s featherweight: Charles Jourdain vs. Andre Ewell
Female bantamweight: Raquel Pennington vs. Macy Chiasson
Heavyweight: Don’Tale Mayes vs. Josh Parisian
Lightweight: Jordan Leavitt vs. Matt Sayles

Five more things to know (from ESPN Stats & Information)

1. Stephen Thompson participates in the main co-event against Belal Muhammad, who is undefeated in his last six fights (5-0, 1 NC). “Wonderboy” has 10 knockdowns in his UFC career, tied for third in welterweight history.

2. Amanda Lemos is a -400 favorite to extend her winning streak to five in her strawweight bout with Angela Hill. With a win, Lemos would join Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez with the division’s longest active winning streak. For Hill, this fight is her 19th in the UFC, leaving her only one behind Jessica Andrade for most fighters.

3. Raphael Assunção has lost his last three fights entering a bantamweight fight against Ricky Simón, who has won three in a row. Assunção has 11 UFC wins, tied for second in division history, one behind TJ Dillashaw.

4. Two great featherweights will meet during the opening of the main map: Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins. Swanson has 12 UFC wins at the featherweight, the third-biggest in division history. The fighter above him? Elkins, who has 15 wins at 145 pounds. The all-time leader is Max Holloway, who is 18.

5. Entering the last UFC event of 2021, 13 fighters finished the year with a 3-0 record, but they can be joined by others on this map who are 2-0. This list includes Chris Daukaus, Muhammad, Lemos, Simón, Mateusz Gamrot, and Gerald Meerschaert.

ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this bout preview.

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