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Derrick Lewis says he’s in ‘prime,’ plans particular win

Derrick Lewis thinks he’s at present in the perfect type of his preventing profession, regardless of his file displaying in any other case.

Former heavyweight title challenger Lewis (27-12 MMA, 18-10 UFC) has misplaced 4 of his previous 5 bouts courting again to February 2022 as he enters Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 56 fundamental occasion with Rodrigo Nascimento (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), which takes place at Enterprise Middle in St. Louis (ESPN, ESPN+).

The tough run of outcomes hasn’t held Lewis again an excessive amount of, although. The all-time UFC knockout wins file holder is about to enter the second bout on an eight-fight contract he signed final summer time, and is days away from his eleventh octagon headliner, which is tied for the second-most of any lively UFC fighter behind solely Jon Jones (19).

Solely a lot shedding can occur for even probably the most beloved fighters on the UFC roster, although. At 39, all of the on-paper traits are going in opposition to Lewis. But, his optimism about his future prevails.

“I’m extra enthusiastic about this battle than some other battle I’ve ever had,” Lewis advised reporters at UFC on ESPN 56 media day. “I educated my butt off for this one, and I don’t don’t have any accidents coming into this battle. I’m feeling wholesome. I’m lower than 10 kilos away from making my weight already. And often I’m like 15 kilos, 20 kilos earlier than weigh-ins. I’m lower than 10 kilos proper now from making weight.

“I’m feeling nice proper now. I really actually really feel like that is my prime. Every time I used to be in my 20s, early 30s, I didn’t really feel this good. Now I’m feeling unbelievable proper now.”

Lewis’ optimistic perspective is all of the extra intriguing contemplating he’s coming off arguably probably the most irritating efficiency of his profession. “The Black Beast” suffered a lopsided unanimous resolution loss to surging Brazilian contender Jailton Almeida in November in a bout the place he was managed on the bottom for 21 minutes and 10 seconds out of 25 minutes, and landed simply 20 important strikes.

In keeping with Lewis, the adversity and turmoil he encountered en path to entering into the cage in opposition to Almeida was important, and it made issues near-impossible to stand up from backside place.

“The one factor that was bothering me was I tore each my shoulders,” Lewis mentioned. “Like after I signed I mentioned, ‘Yeah, I’ll settle for the battle.’ Then a number of days later I tore each my shoulders doing silly jiu-jitsu drills. My rotator cuffs on each side. So I couldn’t actually push off or throw a punch. Then even throwing an uppercut harm it.

“Then the week of the battle, that Monday. I had two ear infections in my left ear and my proper ear on the identical time and I didn’t recover from that till like three weeks after the battle. It was a foul efficiency, however I used to be feeling nice. I used to be feeling nice. I used to be stunned with myself that we even went 5 rounds. I used to be snug in there, however I simply didn’t have any power in my shoulders.”

Lewis, No. 11 within the newest USA TODAY Sports activities/MMA Junkie heavyweight rankings, mentioned he wish to e-book a rematch with Almeida is he defeats Nascimento this weekend. He admits that he doesn’t know a lot about his opponent, and left the learning and recreation plan to his coaches.

Even when he has nothing private towards Nascimento, there is a component of motivation with this specific matchup. Lewis has had combined outcomes going in opposition to fighters coaching out of the extremely acclaimed American Prime Workforce in Florida, and that actuality isn’t misplaced on him.

Lewis thinks that the coaches from his opposing crew have him well-scouted and can attempt to cross that data on to Nascimento. However this time he has a response in retailer.

“They acquired it out for me, particularly over there at American Prime Workforce,” Lewis mentioned. “Each Brazilian I’m preventing is coming from over there. However these guys, they get them in fairly fine condition popping out of American Prime Workforce. So I do know they’ll have this man prepared. They know what’s up. They’ve been preventing me for therefore a few years popping out of that health club, they know my model I’m fairly certain. Nevertheless it’s going to be a very new model coming into this battle.

“I need to do one thing particular. I’ve been engaged on it on my in my storage. My coach don’t know nothing about this. So what I’m about to throw out the primary minute of my battle, my coach don’t don’t have anything to do with it. So in case you all see me toss something loopy, simply realize it wasn’t my coaches concept. It’s my concept. That’s how good I’m feeling proper now.”

For extra on the cardboard, go to MMA Junkie’s occasion hub for UFC on ESPN 56.

Remember to go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of combined martial arts.

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