Healthy and strong following corrective surgery to fix his back, Derrick Lewis is not to be underestimated heading into UFC 244.
New York, NY — Heavyweight favorite Derrick Lewis returns to action at UFC 244, where the ‘Black Beast’ looks to snap a two-fight skid when he takes on Blagoy Ivanov.
It’s a fight that sees Lewis healthy and focused, something that hasn’t always been the case in his career. But following a title shot against Daniel Cormier and surgery to alleviate ongoing back pain, Lewis looks to be at his best.
“Just really training a lot more. Eating better. Taking everything a lot more serious,” Lewis said at the UFC 244 media day, when asked about the lessons learned from his title fight with Cormier last year. “Always being ready and staying ready. And getting my body 100% healthy.”
Health has been a major concern for Lewis, a hulking heavyweight who has looked visibly pained at times in the octagon. He recently had surgery to correct a nagging back issue, which appears to have been a success. “I’m feeling a lot better, I’m feeling a lot stronger. I opened up muscles that I haven’t used in years, just because of my surgery,” said Lewis. “The surgery helped the pain in my back go away, because I’m able to walk the right way and move the right way.”
A Derrick Lewis with better movement is a scary prospect for any heavyweight to face. Asked if opponent Ivanov might be underestimating him based on his past struggles, Lewis responded by saying “it’d be crazy to underestimate anybody in this sport. If he does that, than he already lost the fight.”
As for how the fight plays out, Lewis added that “If I want to, I’ll go ahead and wrestle him, but I don’t plan on wrestling at all.” No surprise there — if you’ve followed MMA at all, you know what Lewis’ game plan will be.
Lewis shot to fame a year ago, following a late knockout of Alexander Volkov. His post-fight interview, conducted while the fighter stood in his boxers (“my balls was hot,” he quipped, instantly creating a widespread meme), became a thing of legend. Among the memorable quotes, Lewis claimed he’d received a pre-fight call from Donald Trump.
So what’s planned this time out, with Trump in attendance? “I never have anything planned. I just say what ever comes to my head, really,” he admitted. “I don’t know, we’ll see, but hopefully I don’t get in trouble for whatever I say.”
Find out Saturday night as UFC 244 goes down live from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Lewis vs. Ivanov appears on the main card, available exclusively on PPV.