Las Vegas, NV — For a long while, Derrick Lewis, with his uniquely humorous style, claimed he didn’t care about titles and championships.
That appears to have changed as he prepares for an interim title fight against Ciryl Gane at UFC 265 next month.
“My coach, my manager, my wife, they all locked me in a room, told me I couldn’t leave until I started saying that ‘the title matters’ because they say that it means more money,” Lewis told the media Saturday, appearing backstage at UFC 264 to promote his own event next month. “So yes, the title matters. That’s all I’m about now, let’s get it.”
Lewis’ sardonic humor has made him beloved by UFC fans, but the reality is that at 36 years old, he’s seeing his window of competition at the top of the division quickly closing. While heavyweights do run into their forties, Lewis has a history of back issues, making his long term future in the division unclear.
Perhaps with that in mind, Lewis has been trying to land a fight with new champ Francis Ngannou — to no avail. The UFC then turned the focus to an interim belt with Gane.
“We’ve been trying to fight Francis since a few months ago. Since June 12, that we was supposed to get the fight done, but he said no to go back to Africa and play in the sand,” Lewis claimed. “They moved on from that date, they tried August 7, he said no, they said the end of the September, but we didn’t hear anything back quick enough. So they just moved on from it.”
Whether it’s Ngannou or Gane, “I really don’t care,” said Lewis. “They told me what I’m going to get paid if I fight Francis, and they told me what I’m going to get paid if I fight Ciryl. So it don’t matter to me, I don’t care. I’m still getting paid the same, like I was getting paid to fight Francis.”
“I don’t care who it was. Ciryl Gane, he’s a good opponent, he’s dangerous,” continued Lewis. Though Derrick Lewis sees Gane as “boring most of the time,” he also recognizes Gane’s fight IQ. “He’s a smart fighter. It’s still going to be a fun fight with me. It doesn’t matter if he’s going to try to stay away and do all these little fancy kicks and stuff like that. But I’m still going to have my moment in the fight.”
As for fighting at home in Houston, TX, “I don’t care, I don’t care if it was in Dubai,” Lewis told Cageside Press. “As long as they pay me the same, pay me pretty good, I don’t care where it will be at. I love that it will be in Houston.”
“The last real championship that we had was the Astros in 2017,” he later added. “I don’t give a damn what you all say, that’s a real championship, we won it fair and square. So they’ll be glad, I’m bringing a championship back to Houston as well.”
Watch the full media appearance with Derrick Lewis from this past week’s UFC 264 above. UFC 265 takes place Saturday, August 7 at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX.