Derrick Lewis has fought some of the toughest and hardest hitting heavyweights the UFC has to offer. In his previous two fights he knocked out Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 in October and more recently suffered a second round, submission loss to champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 the following month.
He’s also gone toe-to-toe with the likes of Francis Ngannou, Travis Browne and Mark Hunt.
The question heading into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night Wichita main event, is Lewis afraid of former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, the man he will face in the card’s headlining bout?
Dos Santos believes that to be the case, telling The Sporting News that Lewis is trying to make him emotional and angry by saying that he’s the weakest opponent he’ll face.
Lewis on the other hand is not having any of that.
The Black Beast joined the TSN MMA Show this week and immediately refuted any possibility that he fears the former UFC champion.
“That’s crazy, that’s funny, I call everyone out and I guess he felt like since I didn’t call him out, I must be afraid,” Lewis told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter on the TSN MMA Show. “It’s just that he wasn’t in the way, he’s behind me, why would I be calling him out? I called Francis (Ngannou) out, Francis is probably the most dangerous guy in the division. I called him out, why wouldn’t I call punch drunk Junior dos Santos out?”
If fear didn’t motivate Lewis to say that dos Santos is probably the weakest opponent he’ll face, what was the reason? Lewis chalks that up simply to the fighters he’s already tangled with over the course of his career.
“I believe I’ve fought some pretty tough guys, the fights that I have seen him in, against Cain Velasquez, I was rooting for him, I wanted him to beat Cain and he let me down many times,” said Lewis.
Dos Santos was pulled from a fight against Ngannou at UFC 215 for a potential USADA violation which was eventually traced back to a contaminated supplement from a pharmacy in Brazil.
The 35-year-old accepted a six-month suspension for the unintentional violation.
Lewis believes this test failure invalidates everything dos Santos did before USADA testing was implemented by the UFC.
“I haven’t really seen him fight since USADA, the biggest thing he had before that is that he didn’t have USADA,” said Lewis. “He’s not on the juice anymore, so I’ve erased all of those fights. He’s had two fights since he got popped, so I have to watch those fights.”
Lewis had a very torrid pace to end 2018, fighting on back-to-back pay-per-view cards in October and November. After going 1-1 in those fights, the 34-year-old was looking for a little break, though the UFC had other plans.
“I turned two fights down, I turned Stipe (Miocic) down and I turned (Alistair) Overeem [down],” said Lewis. “They wanted me to fight Stipe in January, I needed some time off. I’m feeling good now about it, that was coming off a broken hand from the Volkov fight.”
There has been lots of talk about light heavyweight champion Jon Jones moving up to heavyweight and if he does, Lewis is more than willing to fight him. At this point in his career, he doesn’t really care who is on the other side of the Octagon.
“It doesn’t matter, I’ll fight anyone,” said Lewis. “After Francis and Big Country (Roy Nelson), those were the guys that I wanted to fight the most, I fought them and everyone else doesn’t matter now.”
Despite that fact, if Lewis gets his arm raised on Saturday, he does have his eye on that other former champion that he turned down earlier this year as his next opponent.
“If everything goes right against Junior dos Santos, I’d love to fight Stipe next,” said Lewis.