UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Lewis: Laugh at Derrick Lewis at your own risk

Derrick Lewis (Getty Images)

Whether it's igniting a post-fight soundbite like "my balls was hot" into an instant viral sensation or posting hilarious takes on Instagram, Derrick Lewis touts arguably the most entertaining personality in mixed martial arts. But not everyone is amused. Take Curtis Blaydes, Lewis' opponent in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday, for instance. When speaking with ESPN's Ariel Helwani earlier in the week, Blaydes drubbed Lewis' humor as "low-hanging fruit," while adding "I don't think (Lewis') putting in the work to be great."

Lewis' reaction to the jabs? "The Black Beast" couldn't care less about how Blaydes — or anyone else — perceives him.

"If that's what they think, that's what they think," Lewis, largely unbothered, told DAZN News on Thursday afternoon. "They still have to see me in the Octagon. They can say it's low-hanging fruit or whatever. This ain't no comedy show. This is throwing hands."

And when it comes to throwing hands in the heavyweight division of the UFC, Lewis can lay legitimate claim to being the very best ... with the numbers backing him up. The 36-year-old's 19 knockouts make him the company's all-time heavyweight KO king. And that's far from "low-hanging fruit" nor a laughing matter.

Among that ghastly total was the buzzer-beater of a KO that he produced at 4:49 of the third round against Alexander Volkov in October 2018 after being dominated by the Russian for a majority of the fight. His notorious “My balls was hot" soundbite followed that scintillating KO, which continues to bask in viral infamy more than two years later. 

Lewis still remembers detonating that massive right hand, which dropped Volkov with a thud, before finishing him with unforgiving ground-and-pound pummeling from hell.

"My coach was telling me we got one minute left," Lewis recalled. "I said 'OK, let me start bouncing around, try to get my body going.'

"I always get this last wind at the end of my fights," he added. "I always get this energy out of nowhere. It doesn't matter how tired I am."

Blaydes better hope that Lewis doesn't get that energy boost Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Blaydes hasn't minced words in giving up his blueprint of wanting to stick with his wrestling to defeat Lewis. But Lewis has found the humor in that, too, sarcastically saying that he fears Blaydes' striking, while pumping up his own desire to gun for takedowns this weekend.

But in all seriousness, Blaydes touting a wrestling experience edge over Lewis, doesn't faze the New Orleans native turned Houston resident at all. Lewis had his first pro MMA fight at the age of 25 back in April 2010 and that came after he served three-and-a-half years in prison over a probation violation. So, he's used to his opponents flexing MMA experience over him.

"Most of the guys that I face, they have mixed martial arts experience over me anyway," Lewis offered. "They take all of that more serious than I do. They have backgrounds, been doing it since they were seven. For me to get a victory over anyone, it's like, 'Yeah, I did that.' It's always a great feeling."

Especially when those victories come by the way of a punishing knockout. Less than a month after beating the brakes off Volkov in thrilling fashion, Lewis fell to then-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier by second-round submission (rear-naked choke) in the only title shot that he's ever received. Cormier thoroughly outclassed Lewis with his ground game in that November 2018 bout, surgically taking him down and cinching in the RNC. Saturday night will reveal if Blaydes can do the same.

If Lewis, though, has his hand raised in Vegas, he'll have to still wait for the winner between champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 at UFC 260 on March 27 to face Jon Jones presumably in the summer. Lewis, who holds a win over Ngannou by unanimous decision, doesn't feel slighted that Jones would be cutting in line.

"No, I don't care," Lewis said nonchalantly. "That's good. I'm happy for him."

Although he recognizes an eventual title shot, which would be the likely outcome from a win over Blaydes, Lewis isn't going to harp on it now or even if he's victorious this weekend.

"I would love to get another shot at the title," he offered, "but if it doesn't happen, I'm not going to cry about it. I'm just going to continue fighting."

For that possibility to come to fruition, Lewis needs a win against Blaydes first. And a knockout victory, which would plump up his all-time UFC heavyweight-leading total to 20 KOs, would be anything but "low-hanging fruit" ... nor a laughing matter.

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