Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivak will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 4, 2023) at UFC Vegas 68 from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Though this fight was originally scheduled for November, the stakes and circumstances have not changed one bit. Lewis is still hanging onto a Top 10 ranking, but he’s in the midst a slide. He’s lost three of his last four fights, and though one of those defeats came in a title fight, the fan favorite runs the risk of losing three straight here. Conversely, Spivak is in the best form of his career. He’s won five of six, showcasing improved stand up skills in that time without neglecting his strong groundwork. The Moldovan talent has earned a step up in competition, and Lewis is a perfect chance to debut into the Top 10.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Curtis Blaydes (UFC Vegas 19), Alexander Volkov (UFC 229), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 6), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 244), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 45)
Key Losses: Ciryl Gane (UFC 265), Tai Tuivasa (UFC 271), Sergei Pavlovich (UFC 277), Daniel Cormier (UFC 230), Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 146)
Keys to Victory: Originator of the “Swang-n-Bang” style, Lewis is a heavy-hander bruiser. He’s absolutely nasty when able to score top position and drop bombs, but “The Black Beast” doesn’t have a particularly consistent way to land takedowns. Often, Lewis succeeds in extended, sloppy brawls that go late.
Few men can throw as hard as Lewis when he’s dead tired.
At this stage of the game, I don’t know that Lewis has any surprises left in him. His inside trips against Tai Tuivasa were neat, but ... I don’t know that they work on many other ranked Heavyweights. Realistically, Lewis is going to try to take Spivak’s head off and just-stand-up his way out of takedowns. It’s what he does!
Once again, the very minor adjustment of taking his right hand to the body could help a ton here. He has to keep distance and avoid the clinch, where Spivak is quite good at landing trips and throws. Punching “Polar Bear” in the chest helps stop that from happening, giving Lewis more opportunity to take his bombs upstairs.
Key Wins: Tai Tuivasa (UFC 243), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 29), Augusto Sakai (UFC Vegas 59), Greg Hardy (UFC 272)
Key Losses: Tom Aspinall (UFC Vegas 36), Walt Harris (UFC Fight Night 151), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 169)
Keys To Victory: Spivak has developed into a rather unique contender. Originally, he was almost solely a grappler who excelled in the clinch, but his kickboxing has come a long way. Notably, he’s developed a rather punishing jab, which helps him manage distance until he’s able to get the wrestling going.
That sounds like a wise plan here! Lewis is pretty abysmal from range, reliant solely on random jump kicks and sudden charges. Spivak’s jab alone is a great weapon to slowly build a lead and soften Lewis up.
Unlike Curtis Blaydes, Spivak doesn’t have to worry about ducking into an uppercut on the way in either, as he doesn’t have to change levels to shoot. Spivak is more than capable of throwing Lewis from the upper body clinch, because he’s so good at chaining throws together, and balance has never been a Lewis strong point anyway.
“The Polar Bear” still has to be wary of closing distance, but it only takes one big swing from Lewis for Spivak to wrap up an overhook and jam Lewis into the cage. Once the wrestling starts, Spivak has the skills to keep Lewis trapped in that quicksand for long periods of time.
This is a prospect vs. veteran fight over a Top 10 spot.
Lewis is fighting to remain a top-ranked Heavyweight. He’s already fought for the title twice and hinted that his career is coming to a close, but Lewis also believes he still has something to offer the division. If that’s true, “The Black Beast” has to win here and turn away the up-and-comer.
On the flip side, Spivak has an opportunity to score the biggest win of his career in his first main event slot. Even given Lewis’ recent struggles, a victory here would go a long way in establishing Spivak as a top contender and growing his name. It’s also proof that the 28 year old — already nine fights into his UFC career — is going to be longterm player among the big men, someone to watch moving forward.
At UFC Vegas 68, Derrick Lewis and Sergey Spivak will duel in the main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 68 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 10 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 1 a.m. ET early Sunday morning.
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