Derrick Lewis is back in the win column and if things go as planned, he’ll be back in the UFC octagon soon too.
“The Black Beast” delivered in a must-win performance Saturday, needing just 33 seconds to finish Marcos Rogerio de Lima on the main card of UFC 291 in Salt Lake City. Lewis opened the contest with a spectacular flying knee that de Lima never recovered from, leaving Lewis to put him away with ground-and-pound.
The victory snapped a career-worst three-fight skid for Lewis and sends him into free agency on a high note as he revealed afterward that UFC 291 marked the final fight on his current contract.
At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Lewis admitted that he was feeling the heat heading into Saturday.
“The win means a lot to me,” Lewis said. “I had a lot of pressure that was on me coming into this fight. I just wanted to prove to everyone that I’m still one of the best fighters in the world.”
Lewis has been a mainstay of the UFC heavyweight division since 2014 and has twice challenged for titles. His most recent attempt to claim an interim championship ended in a TKO loss to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265, which sent him on a 1-4 spiral. His next three losses also saw Lewis finished, twice in the opening round.
The 38-year-old rededicated himself to training for his matchup with de Lima, which was evident in the set of six-pack abs that he showed off at Friday’s weigh-ins.
“Pressure I put on myself,” Lewis said when asked to clarify where he felt the pressure was coming from. “I finally did everything right, I trained my ass off for 11 weeks straight. I didn’t drink any sodas, that’s probably one of the keys to me getting a little six-pack. That’s what I did.”
Lewis isn’t counting himself out of the title race just yet, nor is he assuming that a future championship chase will take place outside of the UFC. He told reporters he would like to re-sign with the promotion while also jokingly giving them a piece of his mind.
“I’m hoping to stay here in the UFC,” Lewis said. “I like it here. I like the staff… everybody’s cool here except for the media. You know y’all are dickheads. F*** all y’all, really. I should walk out right now on y’all. But go ahead, next question.”