A noticeably svelte Derrick Lewis has many wondering if the UFC’s all-time knockout leader has reinvented himself at a key time against tough veteran Serghei Spivac at UFC Vegas 68.
Stopped him in his tracks 😳 @TheBeast_UFC is back TOMORROW at #UFCVegas68!!
[ 10pmPT Main Card | Live on @ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/C8zb1NN569
— UFC (@ufc) February 4, 2023
Somewhat surprisingly, the difference of a few months is rather significant for this Saturday’s main event. Things were business as the broadcast for UFC Vegas 65 was underway before the announcement came that Derrick Lewis had fallen ill after the weigh ins and would not be able to compete. Now three months later, one photo that has made the rounds online has many wondering if the extension could be the best thing that has happened for “The Black Beast” in several years.
Lewis has had a career full of exciting moments, but the last few years have not been without struggles inside the cage. Losses to the likes of Ciryl Gane, Tai Tuivasa, and Serghei Pavlovich (all in his native Texas) raised questions about whether or not the competition had finally cracked the code of the UFC’s all-time knockout leader. Perhaps the greatest criticism of Lewis’ has been the fact that his style has been almost over-reliant on his physical gifts through the years. While reinvention is about more than just an aesthetic change, the discipline that the photos suggest could be a sign that “The Black Beast” may be looking to turn the corner at a key time in his career.
The Polar Bear's back on the hunt 🐻❄️
Serghei Spivac ready for Derrick Lewis in Saturday's headliner!
[ #UFCVegas68 | 10pmPT | LIVE on ESPN+ ] pic.twitter.com/Glpdvnca46
— UFC (@ufc) January 31, 2023
Octagon veteran Serghei Spivac is in the midst of the best run of his career, and Saturday night could be the launching pad towards the top of the division. “Polar Bear” opened his professional career with a perfect 9-0 before he was signed to the UFC in 2019. Spivac alternated wins and losses, coming up short against fellow veterans Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura and notably scoring a victory over current top ranked contender Tai Tuivasa. Though not losses to scoff at by any means, especially in hindsight, it was an auspicious start after having enjoyed so much success to begin his career.
Mid-2020 saw him embark on his current 5-1 run, with his only stumble in that time coming against English stand-out Tom Aspinall. Spivac has scored finishes in three of those five victories with 2022 standing out as a banner year for the Moldovan contender. He opened the year with a first round knockout over the heavy-hitting Greg Hardy and followed it up with a second round finish of Brazilian contender Augusto Sakai. The fight with Lewis was previously scheduled for November, but a bout with covid took Spivac’s foe out of the fight at the eleventh hour and pushed the bout back roughly three months.
The big boys are ready to put on a show 👊@TheBeast_UFC and Serghei Spivac finally go head-to-head TOMORROW NIGHT!
[ #UFCVegas68 | Feb 4 | 10pmPT Main Card on @ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/PhcwHZn8vR
— UFC (@ufc) February 3, 2023
With the division on the verge of crowning a new champion a month from now, Saturday’s winner could poise themselves for a run back up the ladder in 2023. With fresh opponents for both men in the form of Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Tom Aspinall (when he returns) potentially in the running for their next outing, both Lewis and Spivac could see themselves make move toward the belt later this year.