The main event for this Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 4 has all the makings of what could be a stellar heavyweight bout. Former UFC Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos (20-5) takes on perennial heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis (21-6-1).
dos Santos is coming off a knock out win over Tai Tuivasa on December 2, 2018 at the UFC Fight Night in Adelaide, Australia. This marked his second consecutive win after his loss to Stipe Miocic in May 2017 when he attempted to regain the title he lost to Miocic in 2014.
The stoppage over Tuivasa came at 2:30 in the second round when Tuivasa missed a big right hand punch and dos Santos countered. Tuivasa went to the canvas and while he attempted to defend off dos Santo’s barrage of punches, the referee stopped the match when it became obvious Tuivasa was no longer able to defend.
Lewis had a busy 2018 with 4 fights, including two short notice matches. His last bout was for the UFC Heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 on November 3, 2018. Lewis had just fought on October 6, 2018 defeating Alexander Volkov via TKO so had less than a month between fights.
Cormier submitted Lewis in the 2nd round via rear-naked choke. Lewis did get in some solid strikes and head kicks in both rounds while both fighters were standing, Cormier controlled the match the remainder of the time with his superior wrestling skills.
The UFC has recently signed Lewis to a new contract when they kept using him as a reliable opponent in their heavyweight division. “The Black Beast” had requested some time off but the UFC kept asking him to take short notice fights, which he happily took. During media calls for his fight against dos Santos, he has expressed his happiness with the overall value of the contract while not disclosing any figures.
Lewis could also take away a record he shares with Cain Velasquez if he’s able to knockout dos Santos. Both fighters are currently tied with 10 knockouts in UFC heavyweight competition.
Junior dos Santos is a slight favorite to win according to odds makers but this match-up is very close and an interesting one. Neither fighter is known for their ground game and with both men relying on their striking and knockout power, Lewis’ two inch reach advantage could come into play. dos Santos also likes to retreat to the cage quite often, which could be deadly if Lewis is able to land a blow to stun his opponent while he’s in close.
Lewis is deceptive with his head movement and punching. At one point during their match, Cormier actually went down to a knee after Lewis had faked him out with a checked strike attempt. If dos Santos can be lured in the same manner, it could mean a knockout victory for the powerful Lewis.
UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. dos Santos takes place this Saturday, March 9, 2019 and will be broadcast live from the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.