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Derrick Lewis: Fighting for a UFC belt in hometown Houston was ‘too much pressure’

“Black Beast” sees things going differently if he gets another shot at Ciryl Gane. Unfortunately, hometown fights aren’t about to stop happening any time soon.

Derrick Lewis is doing pretty great for a self described brawler with little to no ground game. He holds the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) record for most knockout wins (13), is currently ranked No. 3 at Heavyweight, and is riding a 5-1 record over the past two years.

That last defeat still bugs him, though: a third round technical knockout loss to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 in Houston (watch highlights). Not only was it in front of Lewis’ hometown crowd, it was also for UFC’s interim Heavyweight championship. Those two elements (plus the anniversary of his release from prison) added up to a poor performance, according to “Black Beast.”

“I don’t even want to experience that ever again,” Lewis said in an interview on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “It was too much pressure, too much pressure. Too much. To the point where I really was calling people up, let me get some weed off ‘em so I can relax my nerves during fight day. That type of pressure.

“Never felt it that bad,” Lewis continued. “Actually, before court. Before I went to court, before they gave me some time to go to prison. That’s the other time I felt so much pressure, but other than that it was the Houston card. It was pretty bad as well. [UFC 265] was the same day that I got out, the same day I fought. It was, like, 13 years to that day, it was the same day I was released.

“So I put a lot of pressure on myself as well because it would have made a great story,” Lewis concluded. “From the worst of times to the best of times.”

Lewis was severely out-worked against Gane in that fight, getting out-struck 98-16. That’s not exactly the most unusual situation for Lewis to find himself in, but this time he wasn’t able to produce the comeback knockout. Instead, it was Gane who turned up the heat and pummeled Lewis down onto the canvas.

“I could go on and on about a lot of things that I should have done different in that fight, but it just didn’t happen,” Lewis said. “So you’ve got to just move on and just better myself. If that time comes again and we face each other again, it will be a different outcome, I believe.”

If hometown pressure is a problem for Lewis, it’s one he’s going to have to sort out. UFC has signed a special deal with Honda Center in Houston, Texas, to host regular big ticket pay-per-view (PPV) events, and we imagine the promotion is going to be wanting Lewis on the lineup.

The next Houston card is Feb. 12, 2022, and one fight in the works is Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa. That’s slightly less pressure than fighting a sniper like Gane for a belt, we suppose; however, a dangerous fight nonetheless.