UFC Fight Night: Blaydes versus Lewis Rundown
Fourth-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight Derrick Lewis (25-7) shocked the mixed martial arts and sports betting worlds alike with a vicious knockout of No. 2 contender Curtis Blaydes (14-3). Lewis, who closed as a +320 underdog according to William Hill Sportsbook, rocked the heavily favored Blaydes with an uppercut in the second round.
Lewis, who most recently defeated Aleksei Oleinik (59-15-1) in an Aug. 8 knockout, has won four straight bouts and should find himself the proud owner of the Blaydes’ number two spot in the UFC heavyweight rankings.
With current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3) set to defend his belt against Francis Ngannou (15-3) March 27 — and division newcomer Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) waiting for the winner — Blaydes and Lewis appeared to be fighting for nothing more than positioning in the heavyweight ranks.
The first round of the fight featured some timidity from both heavyweights, with Blaydes sticking to striking in lieu of wrestling, and Lewis flatfooted and defensive. Blaydes was far more active and landed more strikes, winning the round despite a lack of ground work.
The second round picked up where the first had left off, with Blaydes controlling the pace from the center of the Octagon. Lewis was able to defend an early takedown attempt from Blaydes, keeping the all-time heavyweight takedowns leader off the stat sheet.
It was on Blaydes’ next level change attempt when Lewis connected on the fight-ending uppercut. Blaydes appeared to be unconscious as he fell to the canvas, but that didn’t stop Lewis from landing two unanswered head blows before being shoved off by referee Herb Dean.
The loss is especially devastating for Blaydes, who believed a victory could propel him into his first career title shot. Lewis appears content not fighting for a title anytime soon, and is intent on facing middling heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem (47-19) next.
UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik versus Gane preview
The UFC will again feature prominent heavyweight contenders this Saturday with No. 4 Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) facing off against No. 7 Ciryl Gane (7-0).
Rozenstruik rebounded after suffering his first MMA loss at the hands of Ngannou in May by knocking out Junior Dos Santos (21-9) in August. Similarly, Gane’s last fight was also a knockout victory over Dos Santos in Dec. 12.
Rozenstruik is the promotion’s only fighter from the small South American nation of Suriname, and has made a name for himself with his impressive power. Each of his five UFC victories have come by way of knockout.
France’s Gane is a skilled muay thai practitioner and menace on the ground — despite his hulking 6’4”, 247 pound frame. Gane is unbeaten through seven MMA fights and seven kickboxing fights.
How Rozenstruik can win: Rozenstruik is a kickboxer first and foremost, and will need to engage Gane on the feet if he is to claim victory. Rozenstruik’s ground game is nonexistent — he has never completed a takedown in the UFC and lacks the prowess to advance ground position. Where “Bigi Boy” lacks on the ground, he makes up with an impressive striking skill set.
Rozenstruik can aim to attack the lead leg of Gane with kicks early and often to reduce the potency of his opponent’s power. With a compromised base, it will be easier for Rozenstruik to set up a fight-finishing combination featuring his devastating left hook. So, as long as Rozenstruik can defend the takedown and stay standing, he will always have a road to victory.
How Gane can win: Gane owns the rare heavyweight trait of being both a skilled striker and submission artist. His most recent bout against Dos Santos exclusively featured the former, with Gane putting a striking clinic on the former UFC heavyweight champion. Gane deployed massive body kicks and put Dos Santos down with a massive elbow en route to the win.
Should the fight go to the ground, Gane will hold a significant advantage and have the necessary skills to unleash multiple types of submission attempts. In four UFC fights, “Bon Gamin” has three submission victories, including a heel-hook submission over Don’Tale Mayes in October 2019. The clearest path to victory for Gane is to exploit Rozenstruik’s subpar ground game and avoid a center-of-the-Octagon brawl.
Peter’s Prediction: Rozenstruik wins via R2 KO/TKO
Charles’ Prediction: Rozenstruik wins via R4 KO/TKO
Other Fights to Watch: The co-main event features a light heavyweight bout between No. 8 Nikita Krylov (27-7) and No. 11 Magomed Ankalaev (14-1). Krylov will look to string two wins together, last defeating Johnny Walker in March via unanimous decision. Standing in his way is Ankalaev, who is riding a five-fight winning streak that features four knockouts. Both men should have their eyes set on the title and will be wary of what a victory will award them.
Dana White Contender Series alum, William Knight (9-1) faces off against Alonzo Menifield (9-2) in an intriguing matchup of two undersized light heavyweights. Knight wowed in his debut, scoring a unanimous decision win over Aleksa Camur at UFC 253 in September. Menifield will look to get back on track against Knight — he has dropped his last two fights. Knight will look to make a statement as he forges his path in the UFC, and Menifield will be desperate to get back in the win column. Expect this one to stay out of the judges’ hands.
Be sure to follow @TheRedCornerDFP on Twitter for UFC FN: Rozenstruik versus Gane full card predictions and live fight updates.