We’ve got reached the end line of one other exceptional yr for the UFC. In response to Dana White, 2021 was probably the most profitable yr within the firm’s historical past.
Saturday’s UFC Struggle Evening inside Apex will likely be tasked with bowing all the way down to this memorable yr. And as everyone knows, a “good ending” could be a tough job. Motion pictures, tv sitcoms, skilled sports activities seasons – they all the time dance to it. So, did the UFC full its 2021 finale?
On the face of it, a heavyweight important occasion between Derrick Lewis and Chris Doukas is not probably the most spectacular headliner to finish 2021. However I’ll say this: What this struggle does is take some of the common fighters within the sport, Lewis, a shot at redemption earlier than the calendar yr ends.
Lewis (25-8) final fought in August, when he was knocked out by Cyril Achieve at UFC 265. That struggle was for an interim heavyweight championship, and it came about in Lewis’ hometown of Houston. He additionally revealed, simply this week, that the struggle came about for 13 years. Until date Earlier than he was 23 years previous after his launch from jail, MMA modified his life.
I bear in mind being in Houston for UFC 265 and seeing how Lewis handled the stress he had placed on his shoulders for that struggle. For a person who has all the time mentioned he’s not meant to be the perfect on the sport, and who has made his abilities communicate extra to himself, it was clear how a lot Lewis needed that win. He needed it for his metropolis, for his household – and I believe an excessive amount of for myself.
The drawback is all the time a tough capsule to swallow. However most fighters will inform you that dropping is made worse if you really feel such as you did not do your finest. And the way Lewis feels about that title struggle. He admitted this week that the stress has come on him. He mentioned he had a sport plan for coping with Achieve’s distinctive type, however he did not execute any of it as soon as he acquired into the cage.
Lewis is likely one of the cutest figures within the sport as a result of he is sincere, forthcoming, humorous, and relatable (and naturally, as a result of he hits like a ton of bricks). It isn’t arduous for anybody to narrate to Lewis’ expertise in his final struggle. The second and stress had an impact on him. He needs to maneuver on from this. He actually needed this Doukas struggle to occur lengthy earlier than the date that was booked.
The stakes aren’t as excessive for Lewis on Saturday as they had been of their final struggle, however after their disappointing expertise of their hometown 4 months in the past, you possibly can see what it means to them.
Watch UFC Struggle Evening: Lewis vs. Doukas on ESPN+ on Saturday. Mains card begins at 7 PM ET and Prelims at 4 PM
Quantity Match: 12 vs 4
12 UFC Knockouts for Lewis: That is his relationship with Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown probably the most in UFC historical past. 4 of the KOs have include Lewis as betting underdogs, together with him at +350 in opposition to Curtis Blades earlier this yr. Lewis is a +120 underdog for Saturday.
4 UFC knockouts for Doukas: He has fought within the UFC solely 4 instances – all by knockout, three within the first spherical. Doukas needs to turn out to be solely the fourth fighter to start his UFC profession with 5 consecutive knockouts; He’ll be part of Don Fry, Junior dos Santos and Rico Rodriguez.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Data & UFC Stats
And the winner is…
“I believe this docos child weighs in—about 235,240 kilos a day. Lewis is chopping all the way down to 265. You possibly can have a 30- to 45-pound distinction in weight on struggle evening,” says Eric Niksic, coach Mentioned Excessive Couture MMA in Las Vegas. “I really feel like when Lewis is on prime of fellows, he eliminates guys. Lots of his finishes are top-side ground-and-pound TKOs. So I believe being on prime of Lewis is a should.” Is perhaps the X-factor. I do not know if Derrick will come out and wrestle, but when he is throwing an overhand, can step right into a physique lock, get right into a tangle and hit the highest, That is not a nasty factor for him.”
See how Niksic and different specialists break down the primary occasion and predict the winner.
Remember to cease after the primary occasion…
… as a result of Derrick Lewis often says one thing amusing.
Derrick Lewis doesn’t understand that he’s being interviewed by Paul Felder and tells the crew member backstage that he wants to make use of the restroom.
Ian Parker’s Greatest Bets
Derrick Lewis vs Chris Doukas: Driving the five-fight profitable highway, all by TKO/KO, Doukas will likely be going through his hardest competitors so far. Lewis, a knockout performer in his personal proper, is popping out of an interim title match in August, dropping to Cyril Achieve. To get again on observe, Lewis should survive a gap assault from Doukas, then take off his large proper hand. Each males will likely be trying to make a press release, and with each having immense knockout energy, I do not see this struggle progressing past the second spherical. to pick: Doukas or Lewis within the below 2.5 spherical.
how you can watch fights
Stream the primary card and prelims on ESPN: Obtain the ESPN App
Do not have ESPN+? get it right here.
There may be additionally a battle middleWhich supplies dwell updates for every UFC card.
Saturday Struggle Card
ESPN+, 7pm ET
Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Doukas
Welterweight: Stephen Thompson vs Belal Muhammad
Strawweight: Amanda Lemos vs. Angela Hill
Males’s Bantamweight: Rafael Asuncao vs Ricky Simone
Light-weight: Diego Ferreira vs. Mateusz Gamarot
Males’s Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins
ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET
Middleweight: Dustin Stoltzfuss vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Heavyweight: Justin Tafa vs. Harry Hunsucker
Girls’s Flyweight: Cesara Eubanks vs. Melissa Gatto
Males’s Featherweight: Charles Jourdain vs Andre Ewell
Girls’s Bantamweight: Raquel Pennington vs. Maisie Chiasson
Heavyweight: Do not Inform Mays vs. Josh Parisian
Light-weight: Jordan Levitt vs. Matt Salles
5 extra issues to know (from ESPN stats and data)
1. Stephen Thompson competes within the co-main occasion in opposition to Belal Muhammad, who’s unbeaten in his final six matches (5–0, 1 NC). “Wonderboy” has had 10 knockdowns in his UFC profession, the third-most degree in welterweight historical past.
2. Amanda Lemos is the -400 favourite to increase her profitable streak to 5 in her strawweight struggle with Angela Hill. With a win, Lemos would be part of Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez with the longest lively profitable streak within the division. For Hill, this struggle is her nineteenth within the UFC, leaving her only one behind Jessica Andrade for many feminine fighters.
3. Rafael Asuncao has misplaced his final three bouts whereas coming into a bantamweight bout in opposition to Ricky Simone, who has received three in a row. Asuncao has 11 UFC victories, one behind TJ Dilshaw, the second most in division historical past.
4. The primary card opener will characteristic two featherweight greats: Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins. Swanson has 12 UFC victories in featherweight, the third-largest within the historical past of the division. Fighter over him? Elkins, who has 15 wins at 145 kilos. The all-time chief is Max Holloway, who has 18.
5. Coming into the ultimate UFC occasion of 2021, 13 fighters have completed the yr with a 3-0 document, however there are few others on this card to hitch them who’re 2-0. That checklist contains Chris Doukas, Muhammad, Lemos, Simone, Mateusz Gammerot and Gerald Meerschaert.
ESPN’s Jeff Wegenheim contributed to this struggle preview.