The build-up between heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou ahead of their UFC 226 fight on Saturday was pretty heated. However, the exact opposite was displayed during their actual fight, which was bumped to co-headliner status on fight week.
Many believe that Ngannou’s previous loss to former champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 early this year may have played a part in his non-performance, and Ngannou pretty much said it himself. Lewis does see this as a possibility.
“I looked at him in his eyes and his face, and it wasn’t even the same guy that I saw at weigh-ins,” Lewis told MMAjunkie Radio. “He looked completely different. His soul had already completely slipped out of his body before he even stepped in the cage.”
“I’ve seen that same look in Gabriel Gonzaga’s eyes when he stepped into the octagon with me, that he was already defeated.”
“I was even bored in the fight,” he added. “I felt like I pushed forward more than he did, and I got so bored, and I started listening to the chants. It really did sound like a surround sound in the stadium.”
“The Black Beast” has been heavily critical of himself and what he showed in the fight against Ngannou, which he attributes to a back injury that he has been dealing with for a while now. Lewis says he has begun the necessary steps to get it fixed, but if it persists, he may just have to deal with it through his succeeding fights.
“Each fight, I have the same problem. Sometimes, it’s not as bad as it’s been the last couple,” Lewis said.
“We’re going to try two more things and see what the doctors can do. But if not, then I’m going to have to continue fighting with this same injury.”
The 33-year-old Lewis was awarded a unanimous decision verdict over Ngannou, and now holds a record of 20-5 (with 1 NC and 18 wins by stoppage).