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UFC Fight Night 86 fight card: Gabriel Gonzaga vs Derrick Lewis full fight preview

Gabriel Gonzaga and Derrick Lewis will battle this Sunday (April 10, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 86 inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. In a match up of veteran and up-and-comer, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Derrick Lewis will scrap this Sunday (April 10, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 86 inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia.

Without mincing words, Gonzaga needs a strong performance. His last fight was one of the worst in UFC history, and it barely saved him from losing four straight. This is a must-win for the long-time veteran, as he'll likely be released with a loss.

On the other hand, the terrifyingly powerful "Black Beast" has been making waves. He's won three of his last four fights and has finished each of his victories, and he's been improving throughout his UFC career.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:

Gabriel Gonzaga
Record: 17-10
Key Wins: Mirko Filipovic (UFC 70), Shawn Jordan (UFC 166), Ben Rothwell (UFC on FX 8)
Key Losses: Travis Browne (TUF 17 Finale), Stipe Miocic (UFC on FOX 10), Matt Mitrione (UFC on FOX 13)
Keys to Victory: Gonzaga is a large, powerful Heavyweight with knockout ability in his punches and kicks. However, his background lies with his jiu-jitsu black belt, which has allowed "Napao" to submit eight of his prior opponents.

In this bout, Gonzaga needs to return to his grappling roots.

For all of his success, Derrick Lewis is not the most technical fighter. He's still rather raw on his feet, and it's definitely possible to take him down. If Gonzaga keeps his hands high and looks for an opportunity to shoot, he should be able to time his double leg successfully.

That said, if Gonzaga is having difficult getting in on his opponent's hips, he cannot try to force the shot. Lewis has a habit of reversing opponents who do that, and Lewis is an absolute mauler from top position.

If he is unable to drag the fight to the mat on his terms, Gonzaga should look to counter strike. Lewis throws wide and -- as displayed in his victory over Shawn Jordan -- Gonzaga does have the technique and experience to capitalize on those openings.


Derrick Lewis
Record: 14-4 (1)
Key Wins: Viktor Pesta (UFC 192), Damien Grabowski (UFC Fight Night 82)
Key Losses: Shawn Jordan (UFC Fight Night 68), Matt Mitrione (UFC Fight Night 50)
Keys to Victory: Lewis is a massive Heavyweight with crushing power. Perhaps most importantly, Lewis carries his power deep into the fight, allowing him to score late finishes as his opponent slows down.

This is an interesting challenge for Lewis. His opponent is likely the more technical striker and definitely the far superior grappler, yet it seems like a foregone conclusion to many that Lewis is going to smash Gonzaga's head like Gallagher taking on a watermelon.

This tends to happen when one fighter is seen as on the rise, whereas the other seems to be on his way out. Regardless, the safest approach for Lewis would be to drag this fight out a bit. Gonzaga's cardio is historically horrendous, as he fades awfully fast after the first round.

To take advantage of this flaw, Lewis should force a dirty boxing battle early. At that distance, Lewis' physical prowess will keep him relatively safe from takedowns, and it will also allow him to land the better shots in close. Furthermore, that type of fighting is exhaustive, which will cause Gonzaga to slow down quickly.

Leaving him a waiting target for Lewis' powerful punches.

Bottom Line: Lewis is on the verge of becoming a pretty big deal at Heavyweight, and Gonzaga is a reasonably tough task for him.

This fight is Gonzaga's chance to prove that he's not at the end of his road. As mentioned, he is the more technical and experienced fighter. However, if his chin fails him and he's on the receiving end of another knockout, UFC is unlikely to keep him around much longer.

With a win, however, Gonzaga's position is reasonably safe. His last fight may have been beyond terrible, but he'd still be on a two-fight win streak.

Lewis has a fair amount of hype behind him, but the problem is that he hasn't really beaten anyone of note. His last two wins were over decent prospects to be sure, but he has yet to beat any of the division's more proven fighters. He can change that with a victory over Gonzaga, which would surely jump him up the rankings a bit.

On the other hand, a loss would be pretty damning. If Lewis loses his third opportunity to step up in competition out of three, it may mean that his ceiling is lower than many hope.

At UFC Fight Night 86, Gabriel Gonzaga and Derrick Lewis will collide in the co-main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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