In the Clinch – Houston, Derrick Lewis needs to be a big problem at UFC 265 – UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis (25-7-0, 1NC) knows he has a tremendous opportunity to make a statement in front of his home crowd Saturday night.
While his main event matchup with French prodigy Ciryl Gane (9-0-0) not for the undisputed belt – currently held by Francis Ngannou – who thought three years ago he would be No. 2 and this close to a belt?
Of course, no one said it would be easy.
Gane, 31, comes into the fight undefeated with a slick ground game with solid technical striking. He will enjoy height and reach advantages that he has proven he can take advantage of.
But the Frenchman admitted at Friday’s press conference that he is nervous and inexperienced.
Lewis needs to take advantage of this and make the No. 3 Gane as uncomfortable as possible in the octagon. He will have an entire nation in his corner.
This fight kind of reminds me a bit of the first Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua boxing tilt in New York. The smaller Ruiz got off the deck to collect an upset TKO victory over the bigger and technical striker in Joshua. Lewis needs to fight big just like Ruiz did.
“The Black Beast,” 36, was calm and collected at the press conference. He was funny, but also admitted there is some pressure trying to make history for Houston.
Whatever lessons Lewis has learned from his first title shot, a submission loss to Daniel Cormier at UFC 230, he is keeping close to the chest.
Can you blame him?
Striking should be used by Gane for takedown opportunities. Make Lewis work on the mat to take the starch out of him. Avoid the big shots. Easier said than done.
The winner gets to write some history and unify the belt with an angry Francis Ngannou.
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