Derrick Lewis' plan to quickly KO Curtis Blaydes is no laughing matter

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4-min read

LAS VEGAS — There are only roughly two times in his life that Derrick Lewis is serious. The first is when his wife speaks angrily to him and the second is when the Octagon door closes for a UFC fight.

Other than that, take what Lewis says seriously at your own risk.

His appearance at UFC media day before his main event bout Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at Apex with Curtis Blaydes is a case in point.

When Lewis was asked about the problems created by the weather in his home state of Texas, he noted that he ran into Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at the Houston airport. He said he took a selfie with Cruz, who came under fire from his constituents for flying to Cancun, Mexico, as many of them were struggling during a winter storm with no power and no water.

Did Lewis actually see Cruz and take a selfie? Possible, but highly unlikely.

Later, a reporter asked Lewis if he’d enter a grappling match with Blaydes, a former junior college wrestling national champion who is one of the best grapplers in the heavyweight division.

The best way for Lewis to guarantee a loss to Blaydes is by adopting a wrestling/grappling-heavy style for the fight.

Yet, in typical Lewis fashion, he said with a straight face that that’s exactly how he planned to fight Blaydes.

“Yes. Yes. One hundred percent,” Lewis said when the reporter asked him if he’d welcome a grappling match with Blaydes. “I really do believe I could have more takedowns than him in this fight. I really do believe that, yes.”

But not 30 seconds later, Lewis was asked for a prediction and, of course, grappling didn’t figure into it. And that is predictable, since Lewis is the all-time KO leader among UFC heavyweights, while Blaydes averages 6.98 takedowns per 15 minutes while Lewis averages 0.54.

Lewis’ answer to that question showed his true colors.

“I believe it’s going to be a first-round knockout,” Lewis said. “I’ll knock him out in the first. The first exchange, I’ll knock him out.”

That might seem early, but that would make sense to be Lewis’ plan. As the conversation continued, another reporter raved about Lewis’ head kicking ability and asked if he visualized knocking Blaydes out with a kick to the head.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 19: (L-R) Opponents Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on February 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
(L-R) Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on February 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

After saying that he had scored two head kick KOs in his training camp, Lewis was back at it with the grappling talk.

“Actually, I got two head kick knockouts in the gym, so hopefully that will transfer over,” Lewis said, suppressing a wan grin. “Maybe on Saturday if I decide on doing it. But I want to work on my All-American wrestling that I’ve been doing, so yeah.”

One of the reasons he’s become so popular among UFC fans is his sense of humor, the funny videos he continually posts on his Instagram and, more than anything, his power to end fights in an instant.

No matter the circumstances, he’s always looking for a finish, which he proved when he came almost out of nowhere in the waning seconds of a 2018 bout with Alexander Volkov to knock the Russian out. That was the night in which Lewis took his shorts off in the cage after the fight and told UFC broadcast analyst Joe Rogan that he did it “because my balls was hot.”

But that dramatic ending against Volkov is far more indicative of the fighter that Lewis is rather than a guy who may try to grapple one of the best grapplers in the division.

“Don’t ever give up on me no matter whether it’s the last few seconds of a fight or the first few seconds of a fight,” Lewis said. “If I’m getting my ass kicked, it doesn’t matter. I’m still in the fight and I still believe I have a chance.”

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