Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight bruisers Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis squared off last night (Nov. 3, 2018) at UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
If you miraculously manage to capture two UFC belts at the same time, how do you decide which one to defend? For Cormier, the answer seemed pretty easy. Be forced to diet miserably for months and strain your body terribly or step up on short-notice for an excellent payday?
As for Lewis, the opportunity to fight for the title was unexpected and without much notice, but it’s also the kind of opportunity and paycheck that’s difficult to decline. Plus, it’s not like Lewis is one for complicated gameplans anyway.
Lewis opened up with some nice kicks, prompting Cormier to back him into the fence and dump him to the mat with a high-crotch takedown. Cormier settled into half guard, where he kept Lewis pinned to the mat with should pressure and hammered him with elbows. At about the midway point in the round, Lewis decided to stand back up, Cormier threw him back to the mat with another dump.
With about a minute remaining, Cormier really turned up the heat. He dropped some serious hammer fists into Lewis’ jaw, spinning around him as Lewis tried to stand back up.
Lewis didn’t look too tired yet, but he was a bit frustrated.
Lewis came out firing in the second, nearly landing some big haymakers before Cormier timed an entry along the fence. Lewis forced Cormier to transition two or three times, but the former Olympian eventually landed an ankle pick out of a front headlock. This time, Cormier jumped onto the back when Lewis turned away. His arm managed to slip under the chin, and Cormier finished things quickly afterward.
Even if you wanted Lewis to pull off the miracle, most people knew this was probably going to happen. Whether Cormier finished by rear-naked choke or punches was the biggest question, and at times both seemed possible. Ultimately, though, Cormier took the path of least resistance from the first bell: Takedown, advance position, submit.
I don’t know that there’s all that much to break down, as Lewis simply couldn’t stop Cormier’s takedown attempts. Either way, it’s a success and legitimate title defense for “DC,” even if it was his easiest fight in years.
As for “The Black Beast,” I don’t know that only having three weeks to train really hurt his performance that badly. You could send Lewis to the Olympic training center in Colorado for six months, and I wouldn’t expect him to be able to stop Cormier’s takedowns. As such, it was really a matter of if Lewis could land the statistically improbable — but always possible — knockout blow in his limited time on the feet.
There are some silver linings for Lewis. First and foremost, headlining a major event just a month after his last fight will help keep Lewis a name fighter and draw. Fans who followed Lewis after UFC 229 did not do so because they thought him a champion — they did it because he’s entertaining and likable.
That’s still true after this showcase.
I also hope to see Lewis maintain his new training regime for his next fight. Lewis was noticeably leaner and never seemed all that tired in the fight, which is a major improvement. If his conditioning can improve, there are still very few people in this world who want to trade with Lewis or can wrestle him quite like “DC” did.
He may not be a champion, but Lewis is still a great success story.
Last night, Daniel Cormier defended the Heavyweight crown with a submission. What’s next for the double-champ?
For complete UFC 230: “Cormier vs. Lewis” results and play-by-play, click HERE!