There was a lot of hype behind tonight’s co-main event at UFC Fight Night 146 / UFC on ESPN+ 4 with 265.5 lb Derrick Lewis taking on former UFC Heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos. Lewis had been coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier in November 2018 for the title while dos Santos was riding a two fight win streak.
Both men came out swinging with Lewis drawing his opponent in to land some powerful kicks and punches. The two men traded powerful strikes when dos Santos accidentally poked Lewis’ eye while taking a combo from the larger Lewis. Referee Herb Dean gave the fighter a warning, who argued that his hand was closed despite Dean and the crowd in attendance reacting to the eye poke during an instant replay.
The fighters continued to trade punches and kicks until dos Santos landed a very solid spin kick to Lewis’ mid-section, causing him to double over in pain. When dos Santos closed in on his opponent, Lewis stood up and landed a solid punch that cause dos Santos to retreat. The commentators wondered if he was playing possum but it was obvious Lewis was in a great deal of pain.
Dos Santos attempted to work the body for the remainder of the first round but also took the opportunity to land head shots as Lewis attempted to protect the injured area. Lewis was able to make it through the round.
During the break between rounds Lewis’ team could be heard calling on “The Black Beast” to finish the fight so at some point he must have acknowledged to his team the severity of the injury. Lewis was the aggressor to start the 2nd round but the veteran dos Santos was able to move and counter the attacks.
Lewis was on the receiving end of a powerful strike from dos Santos that caused him to stumble. Dos Santos pounced on his opponent and when Lewis was not able to defend, Dean stopped the match. Junior won via TKO via punches at 1:58 of the second round.
The win by dos Santos is likely to see him climb the UFC Heavyweight rankings as he went into the bout ranked #8 by the UFC while Lewis was ranked #3 behind Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. Despite being the lower ranked fighter, dos Santos went into the match as a favorite to walk out with the victory.
That knockout win could also make an argument for Junior to be put in a title match against Daniel Cormier, who is currently recovering from injury and doesn’t currently have his next match scheduled. Fellow heavyweight Ngannou took to social media about a possible match-up and dos Santos stated that would be a great fight during a post show interview. He even suggested he would be ready to go at the end of August.
Junior dos Santos moves to 21-5 while Derrick Lewis drops to 21-7-1.