UFC 247: Derrick Lewis Talks Fighting Ilir Latifi, Jon Jones Moving to Heavyweight

Derrick Lewis was a little surprised to learn who he would be fighting at UFC 247 in Houston this February.

Las Vegas, NV — Fighting in his home state of Texas at UFC 247 in Houston, heavyweight Derrick Lewis has a rather curious match-up. The former title challenger will welcome Ilir Latifi to the heavyweight ranks.

The Swedish fighter has been a mainstay at 205lbs in the UFC, but he’ll return to heavyweight, where he fought outside the promotion, against ‘The Black Beast’ this February.

“It was very surprising that they chose Latifi, because I believe that he was a small 205’er, and if anything, he should have moved down to 185 instead of moving up to heavyweight,” Lewis (22–7, 1NC) told media outlets including Cageside Press over the weekend, as he appeared backstage at UFC 245. “I heard that he had called me out, so it was a real surprise to me that he wanted to pick the biggest guy in the division — the fattest guy.”

As to his thoughts on his upcoming opponent, “I know he’s an explosive guy. He’s aggressive right away,” said Lewis. He’s not all that worried about who he fights, however. “I don’t think he’ll be any different than anyone else.”

Following a win over Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244, Lewis had been looking for a fight with another top big man, Curtis Blaydes. But he’ll take Latifi. Or anyone, really. “It was [disappointing to not get Blaydes], but like I said, I don’t care who I fight. Curtis Blaydes, unranked, that one guy, I don’t want to say the wife-beater guy, what’s his name? Hardy. Greg Hardy. Even him, it didn’t matter.”

Lewis also gave an update on his back, which he says “feels great” at the moment. It’s something that has troubled him throughout his career, however, recent surgery seems to have had the desired effect. Lewis has also been working with a nutritionist. “It’s been a long time. I haven’t been fighting healthy for years. So I’ve been very grateful to train 100%.”

Atop the UFC 247 card sits Jon Jones, who hinted that a move to heavyweight could come in 2020. Asked about the light heavyweight champ’s prospects, Lewis said that “I think he’ll do great. I guess he’s a natural heavyweight, he walks around 240.” But beyond that, “I really don’t care. I don’t follow fighting at all, so I don’t care what other fighters do.”

Watch the full press scrum with Derrick Lewis from UFC 245 above!