The lovableness of Derrick Lewis
Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis will never be the heavyweight champion of the world.
Sure, I hope I have to eat my words on that someday- Lewis is the kind of fighter you yearn to see succeed, but, there isn’t a problem with not being cut from the same cloth as a Stipe Miocic (the current UFC heavyweight champion) or, Daniel Cormier (former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion).
The thing about Miocic, about Cormier, they are once-in-a-lifetime athletes, to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time- it means a lot more than being one of the best at putting a ball into a hoop, or hitting a ball with a stick, being a generationally great fighter means that you have scaled to the summit of the most rigorous and dangerous activity known to history.
This is fighting, it is the most brutal, as UFC color commentator Joe Rogan once eloquently said, “This is Gladiator Shit”
To be an all-time great in mixed martial arts, you’re not the “one-percent”, you’re the one-percent of one-percents of one-percents. A one in Seven-Billion type of probability.
Derrick Lewis isn’t of that extremely rare caliber, he hasn’t and (probably) won’t even be considered one who presents a credible threat to his divisional successors at any given time throughout his career in the sports’ premiere organization. There is nothing wrong with that- in fact- it probably makes him an even more likable fighter. He has that human factor to him, he is, in a way, relegated to regularity like me and you. Sure, there’s nothing regular about beating the hell out of other people for a living, but think of it from a blue-collar viewpoint. Derrick works for his paycheck, just like a roughneck works on an oil-rig for his paycheck- they are both motivated to do their (extremely dangerous) jobs entirely because of monetary gain. The fans are much more able and willing to connect to Lewis because of that “blue-collar” factor, whereas with someone like a Floyd Mayweather, his lifestyle seems unattainable and unfathomable to the common man/woman.
Derrick Lewis is a prizefighter to the truest degree. He fights for money- singularly- he couldn’t care, honestly, about being held historically of remarkably prestigious regard. He’s a throwback in that sense, sort of like an ode to the fighters of old-english boxiana- when local ruffians would clobber each other to near death in the back-alleys of London for pennies on the dollar. He is the modern version of that- and, I find that to be incredibly noble.
Another reason why the proud Houstonian has endeared himself so strongly with the paying public is his personality.
Derrick Lewis is one of the funniest human-beings walking the planet today. While he may not be the greatest fighter ever, he’s virtually unchallenged when it comes to having the strongest sense-of-humor.
I have done you the favor of collecting some of Derrick’s most hilarious interactions in interviews and such over the years, here’s some of my favorites:
After his scintillating buzzer-beating knockout of heavy favorite Alexander Volkov (more on that in the next section), Derrick Lewis took to the mic to deliver one roller coaster of a post-fight interview alongside Joe Rogan at UFC 229 in October 2018;
Dominick Cruz [on commentary]: Derrick Lewis just took his shorts off in the middle of the octagon, i’m not sure why he did that, but he did. He just doesn’t care.
Joe Rogan: I’m here with winner Derrick Lewis, Derrick… Why’d you take your pants off?
Derrick Lewis: My balls was hot.
Rogan: I understand… listen man, that was incredible, and it shows why people love to watch you fight- you can put it all to bed with one shot.
Lewis: I told them boys, I got nothin’ but heart, you know they keep underestimatin’ me, shit I ain’t all technical and all that, but shit, I’m gettin’ there, fuck it.
Rogan: Nobody is going to question your heart after a performance like that sir, that was a come-from-behind finish of the likes that we haven’t seen in a long time- talk us through it-
Lewis: I forgot, a few hours before the fight, Donald Trump called me and told me I gotta knock this Russian motherfucka out because they make him look bad on the news- you know? Him and Putin an’ shit, fuck what they talkin’ bout, U.S.A in this hoe, fuck.
Rogan: [laughing] you came into this fight the number two contender in the division… you’re next in line for a title shot, tell us what you think about that?
Lewis: I need to sit my black ass down, do some more cardio, fuck what you talkin’ bout right now, I ain’t tryna’ fight for no title right now. Not with no gas tank like that, shiiiiittt.
Rogan: Listen, Derrick, you’re one of the most entertaining guys in the sport, thank you very much for a really, really entertaining fight.
Lewis: Thanks for havin’ me, aye, maybe next week sometime… imma come on your show (Rogan’s podcast) and smoke some weed with ya.
And, then, there was of course the incredible post-fight interview following Lewis’s second most-recent outing, a three-round split decision victory over tough Bulgarian Blagoy Ivanov at Madison Square Garden last November;
“Thank you all for coming out to support, shout out to that boy Donald Trump- I know errthing ain’t been goin’ good in the White House, but shit you gon’ have to turn that shit around in 2020…”
“I really tried to hit him in that booty hole that he got on his chest [speaking of the stab wound on Ivanov’s chest that left him in a coma], but shit, my hands were too wet, I know he like it raw in that ass, so- my fault.”
And, for the final post-fight comedic bombshells, here’s Derrick Lewis after scoring (another) come-from-behind knockout win over Travis Browne in February 2017:
Lewis was injured to the body in a dominant round by Browne in the first. Browne landed multiple hard body kicks. But afterward, Lewis said he was not actually hurt.
“I just gotta do No. 2, that’s all,” Lewis said. “It’s not really hurt from the kick. I just gotta boo boo.”
“I just knew I had a bigger heart than him,” Lewis said. “He call himself a man, but he likes to put his hands on women [speaking of allegations of domestic violence from Browne’s ex-wife]. So, fuck that guy. I got much more heart than he has. Where’s Ronda Rousey’s fine ass at? [Rousey and Browne were engaged at the time].”
“I feel like I just need some time off,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to hear nothing about not fighting in the next three months. … Plus, all the training and all the sex I’ve been getting, my body needs some time off.”
It isn’t just Derrick’s bombastic attitude toward media obligations that has won him over the majority of fight fans either-
Lewis has one of the biggest hearts you will ever find in fight sports, evidence of such could come from any of the previous matchups where Derrick Lewis found himself in dire trouble before securing a victory in dramatic fashion.
Against Alexander Volkov, Lewis sprung the mother of all buzzer-beaters with his third round knockout over a then streaking 6-Foot 7-Inch behemoth in the man known as “Drago”.
Lewis had gotten beat pillar to post for about 14 and a half minutes of the 15-minute contest against someone who was quicker, bigger, and much more technically proficient than the “Black Beast”. He was hurt and nearly out of the fight close to a half dozen times, and Volkov wasn’t letting up- thudding home with just about everything in his arsenal. Something that I feel doesn’t get mentioned enough about that fight was Derrick’s spectacular ability to realize the urgency of the opportunity that he afforded himself by timing and landing that lunchbox of a right hand across Volkov’s jawline. He had, quite literally, no time to waste- there was no fat in the finishing sequence, Lewis floored Volkov and then slammed his massive fist into his face until consciousness left the big Russians’ body. With only 11-seconds left in the fight, Lewis’ scored the immaculate knockout victory despite a -82 significant strike differential that marked the greatest statistical comeback in the near three decade history of the UFC.
While the Volkov victory left an unforgettable memory seared into my psyche, It was just “another day” for the heavyweight slugger. Lewis has made a pattern out of putting himself in difficult scenarios before snatching himself from the jaws of defeat thanks to his beloved power right. His success in doing so could go to prove that the skill-level required to be a top-flight heavyweight is much lower than in any other weight class, but, also that the margin for error is much more narrow as well.
In that, where fans found a common theme of redemption and drama throughout the career of now deceased “Rocky-esc” boxer Arturo Gatti, they have found the same pension for drama in the career of Derrick Lewis.
Derrick Lewis might never be the undisputed champion, but, he’s won the fans hearts- he is the undisputed people’s champion of the heavyweight division.
Will he win on Saturday against the four-decade legend of Aleksei Oleinik? The oddsmakers say he won’t, the experts say he won’t, but I would be hard-pressed to put money up against the sports “Cinderella Man”.
Regardless of the result, when you see Derrick Lewis on a fight card- you know that you are both guaranteed a wild fight, and, some jaw dropping quotes.