Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight scrappers Derrick Lewis and Ilir Latifi will go to war this Saturday (Feb. 8, 2020) at UFC 247 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Everything is indeed bigger in Texas. Though it’s his opponent who hails from “The Lone Star State,” that statement includes Latifi. who will make his Heavyweight debut. “Latdog” picked up some quality wins at 205-pounds, but he never managed to go on a title run, resulting in him searching for greener pastures. Lewis, alternatively, is working on earning a second title run. Health and fitness have long been an issue for Lewis, whose giant size has resulted in problems with his back and cardio issues. However, a much more svelte “Black Beast” returned after a decent layoff, and Lewis looked better than ever.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Alexander Volkov (UFC 229), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 244), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC Fight Night 102)
Key Losses: Daniel Cormier (UFC 230), Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 146), Mark Hunt (UFC Fight Night 110), Shawn Jordan (UFC Fight Night 68)
Keys to Victory: Lewis is a destroyer. A deceptively athletic fighter, Lewis is able to cover distance quickly with jumping kicks and swarms of punches. He’s not the most technical man, but if Lewis is able to land, heads roll.
Against Latifi, Lewis does have to be mindful of his opponent’s punching power. Latifi was a fire plug of explosiveness at Light Heavyweight, and that’s likely to be even more true with some extra muscle and no weight cut. If Lewis underestimates his foe’s offense, he could definitely get put down hard.
Otherwise though? Lewis is all wrong for Latifi. The Swede’s wrestling is likely to be of little use against Lewis’ “just stand up” technique, and trying to go that path will exhaust him. It’s going to be a striking battle, and Lewis is the more durable and more powerful man.
Record: 14-7 (1)
Key Wins: Ovince Saint Preux (UFC on FOX 28), Tyson Pedro (UFC 215), Gian Villante (UFC 196), Sean O’Connell (UFC Fight Night 81), Cyrille Diabate (UFC Fight Night 37)
Key Losses: Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Fight Night 153), Ryan Bader (UFC Fight Night 93), Corey Anderson (UFC 232), Jan Blachowicz (UFC Fight Night 53, Gegard Mousasi (UFC on Fuel TV 9)
Keys to Victory: For a man picked up on less than a week’s notice to save a main event, Latifi has proven a valuable and tough member of the roster. He’s a man who crushes things; whether that exact method of crush be power punches, high-amplitude slams, or a vice-like squeeze is really all secondary.
“The Sledgehammer” smashes.
As explained above, trying to wrestle Lewis seems like a really bad idea. If the removal of the weight cut solves all of Latifi’s own conditioning problems, then it might work, but there’s not yet proof of that.
However, there is a really chance that Latifi is the better technical striker, and he does hit pretty damn hard himself. Latifi really struggled in the past against fighters longer and quicker than him who denied him close-distance exchanges — that’s not really Lewis’ style. I’d like to see Latifi walk Lewis down with confidence and try to outbox him, as that’s likely his best bet at landing on the correct side of the knockout.
Someone is getting SLEPT!
Prior to his consecutive losses to Cormier and dos Santos, Lewis was on a pretty incredible tear. He’s still working to rebuild that past momentum, and if he continues to display improvement and progress in regards to his conditioning, it’s very possible that Lewis does in fact go on another run — it is Heavyweight after all! A second consecutive victory against a proven foe like Latifi definitely would help with those goals and move Lewis another run up the ladder.
Alternatively, Latifi has been given a high risk-high reward fight, which is pretty analogous to that of his overall move to Heavyweight. He’s instantly received a shot at a top-ranked contender, which could prove the biggest win of his career! However, he risks getting mauled by a ferocious power puncher if things don’t exactly work out.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 247 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 247: “Jones vs. Reyes” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 247, Derrick Lewis and Ilir Latifi will open the main card. Which man will earn the victory?
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