It seems the UFC wants heavyweight Derrick Lewis to have a busy schedule.
Normally, that is a good thing – it gives fighters a chance to keep their skills sharp and continue making money. But sometimes, too much can simply be too much.
Derrick Lewis has had a busy schedule these past few months. In October 2018, he took on Alexander Volkov. It was a gritty battle that saw Volkov maintain control for the better part of three rounds. And by the better part, we mean every second except for the closing 30.
Volkov used his superior range to outpoint Lewis for three rounds, but with the clock winding down, Lewis mounted one of the most incredible comebacks in UFC history. Firing off a perfectly timed 1-2 combination, he dropped his foe and finished the fight.
Lewis’s comical post-fight interview earned him even more notoriety, taking off his shorts, and answering an inquiry about why by saying “cause my balls was hot.” He was also questioned about the possibility of a fight with heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, which he brushed off casually, saying he needed to do some more cardio training.
But no one would turn down a shot at the world championship. So when Lewis was offered that shot about a month later in Madison Square Garden, he jumped on the chance. He would be unsuccessful against Cormier, but it was a valiant effort from one of the most colorful personalities the division has ever seen.
Yet, even after taking on one of the division’s top contenders and its champion in a two-month span, Lewis was given yet another fight offer he was forced to refuse – that offer being the man who set the record for title defenses, Stipe Miocic.
Lewis spoke about the offer, saying: “They wanted me to fight Stipe on short-notice. I wanted some time off. I would still fight Stipe, but not right now. Not so soon. Especially fighting a guy like DC, who’s more of a wrestler, then going in to fight Stipe… You know I wanted some time off.”
Lewis is taking the smart choice. Miocic is one of the most challenging fights in the division for anyone, especially someone who has fought so frequently in the previous months. Fighters taking time to heal up and recover after tough performances can perform better in the future. It’s tough to show restraint when big fights and money are both on the table, but Lewis made the smart choice.
There’s been numerous cases throughout the sport where fighters fought multiple times in a short window. In June 2010, Chris Leben defeated Aaron Simpson by TKO and earned knockout of the night honors in the process. Less than a month later, he submitted Yoshihiro Akiyama.
Some efforts aren’t as successful. Shortly after Michael Bisping was choked out by Georges St.-Pierre, he stepped in on short notice against Kelvin Gastelum. Bisping would be knocked out in the first round.