Well, it’s fair to say I got my prediction slightly wrong. Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis caused a huge UFC upset early Saturday morning when a devastating right uppercut finished Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes at minute 3:34 of the second round.
As the +350 underdog going into the fight, it would be right to say that the result of the bout was beyond a huge UFC upset. In fact, it’s the biggest UFC main event upset since 2016, when Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199.
But despite Blaydes being a heavy favourite in most people’s eyes – mine included – as mentioned in my preview of the fight, Lewis can change the course of any fight with one punch. And that is exactly what he did.
“only punch I was waiting for the whole time”
As the fight began, commentator Bisping said that Blaydes’ ability to take opponents down was his “clear path to victory”, and with the most takedowns in UFC heavyweight history, it’s something we were all waiting to happen.
However, near the start of the first round, when Blaydes attempted to rush Lewis and take him down, he was abruptly stopped by Lewis’s right hand, causing Blaydes to back off quickly. This punch may have caused Blaydes to think twice about shooting, as, during the first round, that was his only takedown attempt – unusual for a fighter known for his dominant wrestling.
Regardless, Blaydes looked more in control during the first round, always pressing Lewis and throwing some powerful front leg kicks to Lewis’s leading leg, with one almost swiping him off his feet. Lewis wasn’t fazed by this though, as he continued with his gameplan of being patient and letting Blaydes come to him in the hope of landing that one killer blow.
Huge UFC upset in the heavyweight division
This gameplan by Lewis was emphasised by the number of significant strikes landed by 50 seconds into the second round, with Blaydes recording 27 in comparison to Lewis’s 3.
In the second round, Blaydes attempted to execute a takedown on Lewis, but it was well defended by the 36-year-old. Then, with 3:34 left in the round, Lewis got what he was waiting for. Blaydes once again attempted to shoot for Lewis, but the latter read it perfectly, as when Blaydes ducks to go into Lewis’s body, he’s met with a nasty right uppercut that immediately stiffens the body of Blaydes. Lewis followed up with two big strikes, but it was clearly already over, as Blaydes made no attempt to defend himself. If this was a cartoon, he would’ve been seeing stars at that moment.
“I couldn’t wake up”
In his post-fight interview, Lewis admits that in the first round he “couldn’t get it going”. However, he then further adds that the uppercut he finished Blaydes with was the “only punch I was waiting for the whole time” – showcasing how Lewis had been preparing for Blaydes to try and take him down in the exact way he tried before getting sleep. He even added that he didn’t care about throwing jabs or 1-2 punches.
This patient gameplan by Lewis clearly worked, and he knew it during the fight, saying how he was thinking “he’s messing up” every time he stuffed a takedown attempt by Blaydes – implying that he knew he could defeat Blaydes if the fight stayed standing, which he did emphatically.
What’s next for both fighters?
For Lewis, this win is a big one. As a 36-year-old, he hasn’t got many years left ahead of him. But, a win of this calibre against such a strong opponent who – at the time – was a number 2 ranked heavyweight shows that Lewis still has plenty of fight left in him.
After the fight when talking to Bisping, Lewis stated that he would want to fight current champion Stipe Miocic, claiming “I like them wrestlers” – clearly making a sly dig at how he was able to knock out arguably the best wrestler in the heavyweight division.
For Blaydes, this is a huge dent in his quest for getting a shot at the heavyweight title – something that was being discussed as a possibility had he won. Nonetheless, Razor will be eager to bounce back, especially considering he was probably winning the fight up to the moment he tasted Lewis’s right hand, landing 28 significant strikes in comparison to Lewis’s total of 7.
In terms of his next fight, Blaydes will want to prove that this fight was a fluke and that he is still one of the most feared fighters in the heavyweight division. With an upcoming heavyweight fight between number 3 ranked Jairzinho Rozenstruik and number 7 ranked Ciryl Gane, maybe fighting the loser in that fight – would have suggested the winner had he won – would get his journey for a title shot back on track.
Fighter reactions from the huge UFC Fight Night
The Black Beast!!!!!! @Thebeast_ufc has the most power ever
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) February 21, 2021
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) February 21, 2021
Curtis went straight into this one👀, after all the setup he did.#UFCVegas19
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) February 21, 2021
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— Jairzinho 'BIGI BOY' Rozenstruik (@JairRozenstruik) February 21, 2021