Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight hitters Gabriel Gonzaga and Derrick Lewis collided on Sunday (April 10, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 86 inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia.
Full fight video highlights HERE.
Gonzaga entered this bout in a must-win situation. He may have been coming off a victory, but it was a truly tepid performance that did little to distance him from recent losses.
The stakes were high for Lewis as well, although for much different reasons. Lewis has been improving and finishing his opponents, but he still needed a victory over a name opponent to get over the hill and potentially earn a position in the rankings.
Lewis opened up with a high kick that partially connected, but Gonzaga countered by clinching and scoring a takedown. Gonzaga moved into the back mount and looked to be in great position, but Lewis managed to escape back to his feet into the clinch.
For the rest of the round, Gonzaga sought the clinch whenever possible but could not take his opponent down. However, with less than 30 seconds remaining, Lewis finally broke free and swarmed his opponent.
With the first clean combination "The Black Beast" landed, he sent his opponent to the mat completely unconscious.
This was pretty classic Derrick Lewis. He's a more skilled grappler than many expect, which allowed him to survive Gonzaga's early grappling blitz. Additionally, Lewis manages to conserve his power late, both in the fight and in the round.
Speaking of power, Lewis is genuinely terrifying. When he lands a clean shot, his opponents fall down hard. In a division full of heavy hitters, Lewis may be the most powerful.
It's a trait that very few men can even hope to match.
Following this win streak, Lewis deserves an opportunity to face off with a top 15 fighter. Gonzaga may be older, but he's still the biggest win of Lewis' career. Lewis called out Roy Nelson, which is certainly a reasonable match up for both men.
Gonzaga has always been a warrior. The man comes into the Octagon intending to finish or be finished, but he's never been the most durable. As he's gotten older, his reactions have slowed and his durability has dropped off, which is a bad situation when locked in the cage with "The Black Beast."
While Gonzaga should likely be considering retirement, he did show that his grappling is still dangerous. There are certainly men on the roster that Gonzaga can throw to the mat and submit, but the question is whether he's still willing to take the risk of further damage.
Gonzaga deserves plenty of respect for a strong career, but it's likely coming to an end.
Last night, Derrick Lewis dispatched Gabriel Gonzaga in ruthless fashion. How high can 'The Black Beast' climb?
For complete UFC Fight Night 86 "Dos Santos vs Rothwell" results and play-by-play, click HERE!