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UFC Austin’s Derrick Lewis doing more than just ‘half-ass training’ after resolving back issue

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Lewis vs Browne Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not a stretch to say that the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight division needs a contender like Derrick Lewis. After all, in a weight class designed to test longevity and consistency, “Black Beast” has compiled a 7-2 record since the beginning of 2015.

Lewis, 33, has done most of his work inside of the Octagon with a nagging back injury, which led to his withdrawal from UFC 216 and temporary retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA). Luckily for “Black Beast,” and fight fans who want to see the brutal knockout artist compete at the highest level, his back troubles are seemingly a thing of the past.

Leading into his co-main event clash with Marcin Tybura tomorrow night (Sun., Feb. 18, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 126 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, Lewis discusses his new found health and rejuvenated training methods.

“I really haven’t trained the last few years the way I’ve supposed to be training because of my back issue,” Lewis told MMAjunkie earlier this week. “We fixed it, and I trained my ass off for this fight. … I still feel like I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I’m taking my training more serious, my diet more serious. I’m just giving myself a chance. Before I wasn’t giving myself a chance. Doing half-ass training, my coaches would try to push me, and I’m still half-ass training. But this camp right here, I really pushed myself to the limits.

“I don’t have no pain nowhere, nothing. I’m training more than 30 minutes a day. I’m doing two-a-days. I’ve been doing two-a-days, training more than just stair master for 15 minutes and hitting pads for 15 minutes. I’ve been doing more than just that.”

Lewis, who compiled an impressive six-fight win streak from 2015-2017, is coming off a fourth-round TKO loss to veteran Mark Hunt back at UFC Fight Night 110 roughly eight months ago. With a healed back, Lewis is looking to right the UFC ship and yet again cash in when it matters most.

“Of course it’s about the money and stuff like that, but I am hungrier than I was before, back in 2010 when I first started MMA,” Lewis said. “I feel ready to go. I got the rest that I needed and the time off, and I feel ready.”

If “Black Beast” is able to knock off Tybura this weekend in Austin he’ll immediately re-enter the mix atop the heavyweight division. Lewis has produced one of the best records in the weight class since his debut in 2014 and will look to use a win over Tybura to land some of the biggest contenders out there.

“We can see if we can rise up in the ranks and try to get paid more this year,” Lewis said. “Hopefully I can fight four more times this year. Hopefully I get [Francis] Ngannou sometime down the line. He said he wanted some time off, but we’ll see. I’ve got to get past Tybura, and hopefully if I can get past him, I want Fabricio [Werdum], then Ngannou sometime this year. Because I know he wanted time off (after losing to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220).”

UFC Fight Night 126 will be headlined by a welterweight clash between former lightweight standouts Donald Cerrone and Yancy Medeiros.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 126 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass Prelims matches online at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 Prelims bouts at 7 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 9 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.