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UFC 291’s Derrick Lewis now MMA’s hottest free agent ... just when PFL needs an opponent for Francis Ngannou

Could Lewis and Ngannou finally fight for real after a terrible stalemate of a bout from 2018?

Derrick Lewis pulled off a fun upset on Saturday night at UFC 291, which took place inside Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, scoring a super fast 33-second knockout win against Marcos Rogerio de Lima (watch highlights).

The bookies didn’t like Lewis’ chances very much coming into the Heavyweight fight. He was a +185 dog to de Lima (who was a -215 favorite). That’s what going 1-4 over the past five bouts will do to a fighters’ reputation ... even if said fighter is one of the most prolific knockout artists in UFC history. “Black Beast” proved the doubters wrong, blitzing “Pezao” with a flying knee and then finishing him off with some ground-and-pound.

It was an electric moment, and as usual Lewis’ post-fight celebration was almost better than the fight itself. He dropped his shorts, did a dance and joked through his interview with Joe Rogan:

One thing that wasn’t a joke, though? The reveal that this was the last fight on his UFC contract.

“We’ll see,” he said when asked what was next. “Hopefully, I can get another contract with the UFC. If not, f— it. It is what it is.”

UFC would be foolish to let the charismatic and entertaining Lewis go, but he’s a high price tag fighter who keeps crashing and burning every time he fights competition in the Top 5 of the division. UFC has been willing to part ways with similar fighters to cut down on costs lately — why pay more when Contender Series fighters come cheap?

But, UFC may have some extra incentive to keep Lewis around.

Former UFC Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, is currently set to box Tyson Fury in October. Following that, he’ll return to mixed martial arts (MMA) and compete for Professional Fighters League (PFL) in 2024. Who he’ll fight is unclear, and honestly there aren’t too many great options for “The Predator” in the current free agent landscape.

Lewis is a solid option.

It’s not a perfect option, though: Ngannou and Lewis had one of the worst fights in UFC history back in 2018. We’d barely call it a fight: both men just kind of stood around and circled each other for 15 minutes. It was the exact opposite of what people expected from the fight.

Would that dud make a rematch much harder to market? Or, would people look at it as a fluke? It certainly didn’t stop UFC from trying to set up a rematch in 2021. Even with his uneven record, even with the terrible first fight, Derrick Lewis sells. Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou sells.

Hopefully, “Black Beast” uses those facts to get himself paid one way or another.

For complete UFC 291 results, coverage, and highlights click HERE.

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