Good news for fans of the brash talking, hard-charging and even harder hitting heavyweight from Cypress, Texas, Derrick Lewis. “The Black Beast” spoke with Ariel Helwani of the MMA Hour and said do not be so sure you have seen the last of him inside of the octagon.
Lewis almost did not make it to the cage to compete against another outspoken fighter and the hometown Kiwi, Mark Hunt, at UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland, New Zealand due to a back injury. However, true to his nickname, the former Legacy FC Heavyweight Championship trained and fought through the injury before ultimately coming up short when he lost via TKO stoppage late in the fourth round. It was only his third loss in the UFC.
The big man from the Gulf Coast said that the injury that he has been dealing with since 2011 not only played a factor in his performance that night, but it has been a problem during training for most of his career. Before that loss, Lewis looked to be closing in on a shot at the UFC title after winning six fights in a row (five of which were by KO) dating back to the Fall of 2015. In the interview with Helwani, the Texan said that he is hoping to return to action by late 2017 depending on the results of an MRI on his back scheduled for later this week.
“We’re just hoping that [I] don’t have to get surgery, because I thought about it a little bit, and it’s not going to be my last fight,” Lewis said with confidence. “I’m going to try to get back in there as soon as I can, and we’ll find out Wednesday, see what’s going on and if it’s not too serious. Hopefully, I can get back in there before the end of the year.”
The reoccurring injury reared it’s ugly head once again after he was already in New Zealand just days before the fight.
“Like two days before, my back was just real sore, and I knew — I was just hoping that I could work through it. I got a massage the day before and it just made everything even worse. And as the fight went on, it was just getting sorer and sorer…That was the second time it ever happened in a fight. The first time, I still won in the third round. I knocked the guy out in the third round whenever that happened the first time. And it happened again in the Mark Hunt fight, and it was like, damn, I couldn’t move at all. The best thing I could do was just stand there and just take it because it couldn’t move anymore.”
Lewis went on to say that the injury was hurting him so badly during the contest that he felt like he “couldn’t throw a punch because [he] couldn’t rotate [his] hips.”
The stoppage, he says, was a blessing in disguise. After the loss, to the surprise of fans watching that had no idea about the injury that Derrick had been dealing with, Lewis announced that he was seriously considering hanging up his gloves for good. That tune has now changed and as we know, fighters say all sorts of crazy things after fights have ended. This time was just odd because fans are used to Lewis saying things that you get a chuckle out of, like the time he said that a body kick from Travis Browne had not hurt him, he just appeared that way because he forgot to go “number 2” before the fight…then he asked “Where’s (Browne’s girlfriend) Ronda Rousey’s fine ass at?” Now he admits that the announcement of an early retirement was “just heat of the moment.” Both before and after the defeat, heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou, a man that Lewis has previously called out, took some shots at “The Black Beasts” on Twitter.
Lewis said I win Arlovski because he's old with 37 but Mark Hunt 43 years old beat he like a baby 😂😂😂
— Francis NGannou (@francis_ngannou) June 11, 2017
Lewis you should use Google to figure out where New Zealand is and the weather. Lol https://t.co/x9iaet4Lkn
— Francis NGannou (@francis_ngannou) June 13, 2017
Lewis was quick to respond to the criticism from his fellow fighters during Monday’s interview:
“Whenever the booty-scratcher started talking sh*t…That guy is not impressed with nobody, so it’s normal for him to say anything stupid”
He also addressed his former foe Travis Browne’s critique of his performance:
“Travis Browne don’t know what’s he thinking. Travis, he’s out there, man. That guy has been knocked out so many times, he’s been rocked so many times, he don’t know what to say. He’s just trying to stay relevant. He better be worrying about [his next fight] and not worried about me. It’s already done and over with between me and him.”
While Lewis would love to shut the Cameroonian-Frenchman up in his comeback fight, but for now, he is focused on getting healthy. His current plan is to take time off and heal up after fighting three times in both 2014 and 2015, and then four times in 2016, followed by two fights in less than four months during 2017.
“That’s one of the reasons why I said I wanted to retire, because whenever I go into a fight, I’m already thinking about some evil type stuff, and it was really affecting my household.” Lewis lamented. “So I was like, I just need some time off a little bit, try to work on my relationship with my family and stuff like that. And just by fighting all the time like that, it just put me in a bad mood all the time. And it just felt that stepping away for a little bit would be the best thing to do.”
As for the loss, Lewis is taking it in stride just as his outgoing personality would make you think that he would.
“It was still a good fight though. It was something that I expected, a tough fight. I didn’t want an easy fight, I wanted a tough fight, so I got what I wanted, it’s just a learning lesson. Like a lot of people have said, it’s not a bad loss to loss to Mark Hunt, so it’s really like a learning lesson. I know what I need to do to get prepared for my next battle.”
Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg
The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.
The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.
THIS. CARD. pic.twitter.com/bc4AyNncqy
— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2017
Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.
Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.
Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.
Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.
With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:
- Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
- Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
- Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
- Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
- Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
- Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
- Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
- John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
- Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.
More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.
Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.
There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.
While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.
With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.
Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.
However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.
At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.
The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.
So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.
The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.
Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.
Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.
Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.
The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.
From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.
Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.
If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.
As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.
However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016. James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.
After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.
Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.
Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”
His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.
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