Derrick Lewis has twice fought for a UFC heavyweight title, coming up short on both occasions. If he wants to keep his hopes alive for a third championship opportunity, he’ll need to score an impressive win over rising star Chris Daukaus at UFC Fight Night 199 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Lewis fought Ciryl Gane in August for the interim heavyweight title in front of his hometown fans in Houston.
Lewis succumbs to hometown pressure
It was Gane who got the best of that encounter at UFC 265, however. The Frenchman improved his record to 10-0 by stopping Lewis (25-8) in the third round.
Lewis says that he faltered under the pressure of fighting in Houston.
“It was just overwhelming fighting in my hometown,” Lewis said, via MMA Junkie. “I put all that pressure on myself, you know? It would have been 13 years since the day I got out of prison, and winning the title for the UFC heavyweight champion … I put so much pressure on myself. It was just very nerve-racking.
Daukuas (12-3) has won all four of his fights since joining the UFC last year. Wins over Alexey Oleynik and Shamil Abdurakhimov in 2021 pushed him to the No. 7 ranking in the heavyweight division. The 32-year-old police officer has established himself as a rising star in the UFC, and now says he’s ready to take on anyone at any time.
“I’m ready for anyone in the division,” Daukaus told MMA Junkie. “It could have been Francis [Ngannou] or Ciryl [Gane] for a belt. I’m ready for any of them. It’s just about game planning. I’m ready to go. There was never any question about whether I was ready to handle this or able to handle any of this.”
Knockout likely in heavyweight battle
Daukaus comes into the fight as a slight -142 favorite over Lewis (+120), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Both men are powerful – as is typical for the heavyweight division – and could end the fight with one punch.
If there’s one area where Lewis has a clear advantage, it’s in experience. But, the veteran says that won’t mean much when it comes time to step into the Octagon.
“Experience don’t mean anything,” Lewis told reporters. “Most fighters go into a fight really just focused on one thing: just winning. So all the outside and noise really doesn’t matter. We’re heavyweights, so anything can happen.”
|Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Derrick Lewis: +120||Chris Daukaus: -142|
|Method of Victory|
|Lewis by KO/TKO: +160||Daukaus by KO/TKO: +150|
|Lewis by Submission: +2900||Daukaus by Submission: +1000|
|Lewis by Decision: +800||Daukaus by Decision: +550|
If Daukaus can beat Lewis, he’ll immediately throw his name into the heavyweight title picture. For now, though, he says he can’t focus on that, especially given the uncertainty at the top of the division.
“My sole focus is Derrick,” Daukaus told the media. “The only thing I have to do is just get a win. I get the win, my name gets right where his was – top three, top four in the division, and then we’ll go from there about who we’re going to fight because I don’t see a lot of people I have to fight before I get to the belt.”