Derrick Lewis has made a career of defending his territory. But the fortifications begin to crumble.
It’s never smart to discount Black Beast, but the reality is that Lewis is in a steady decline and the competition is starting to catch up. Lewis turns 38 in February and all the dandies in the world can’t beat Father Time (not even in the icy heavyweight division).
The next to hit Lewis – currently No. 7 heavyweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings – is Sergey Spivak, a 5-1 Russian finisher. On paper, Spivak is exactly the kind of rookie that Lewis would have thwarted in the past, so the result of Saturday’s main event at UFC Vegas 65 will tell us a lot about how long Lewis can last with the UFC’s best fighters. big boys division.
In another main card action, Ion Cutelaba takes on Kennedy Nzechukwu in a light heavyweight co-main event that guarantees either a finish or some classic MMA oddities, heavyweight veteran Chase Sherman takes on undefeated Waldo Cortez-Acosta, with welterweight forwards leading the way. . Andre Fialho will fight Muslim Salikhov, and Jack Della Maddalena will fight Danny Roberts.
Which: UFC Vegas 65
Where: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
(Numbers in brackets indicate that Global ranking of MMA fights)
Derrick Lewis (7) vs. Sergei Spivac
Yes, Derrick Lewis’s track record has seen better days, but let’s take a look at what kind of fighters you need to be to beat Lewis:
- if you have a significant advantage in size and athleticism (Sergei Pavlovich, Cyril Ganet)
- if you are also an accredited swangin’ and bangin’ (Tai Tuivasa) practitioner
- if you are technically superior to the striker (Gane, Junior dos Santos)
- if you are Daniel Cormier
This is the sum of Lewis’s last five defeats. I can safely say that Spivak does not fall into any of these categories (in fact, he may be Daniel Cormier in disguise, I cannot rule it out).
What Spivak is is a good wrestler with excellent technical skills on the ground. He knows how to fight there, work in advantageous positions and deal damage. He should be interested in playing on his feet, his only goal should be to dump Lewis as soon as possible and get to work.
But there’s one thing Lewis excels at, and that’s getting up. He doesn’t care about your fancy level changes and double legs, he doesn’t care about your poor ground and pound, and he certainly doesn’t care about your jiu-jitsu. In his mind, avoiding a dangerous wrestling situation is as easy as dragging his 260-pound body off the canvas.
If Spivak doesn’t have another route to victory that I don’t know about, he will eventually run out of options, especially in a five-round fight, and have to spend some time with Lewis on his feet. As soon as this happens, the lights will go out for Spivak.
To choose: Lewis
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Ion Cutelaba
We saw the kinder and gentler Ion Kutelabou on Friday. views and I’m not sure what to do about it. Perhaps this more positive approach will bring out Coutelaba’s more intellectual side and allow him to level up his game? Or maybe he’s just playing possum, charming Kennedy Nzechukwa before hurting him in the cage? And maybe it doesn’t matter because Nzechukwu has the skills to defeat him.
Predicting Kutelaba fights is never easy. In his last two fights, he did the right thing and went to the fight when he needed it, but in both cases he lost. However, Nzechukwu has yet to show that he has a lot of submissions, so perhaps Kutelaba can bring his best skills here with confidence.
Kutelaba could also just drop caution and trade blows with Nzechukwu, but he will have to be wary of Nzechukwu’s own offensive wrestling prowess. As I said, this is a difficult challenge. When this is the case, I choose chaos every time, and when it comes to chaos, few people in the 205-pound division can create it like Cutelaba.
To choose: dirk
Chase Sherman vs. Waldo Cortez-Acosta
Waldo Cortez-Acosta didn’t finish in his UFC debut, but he has another opportunity to get a main card for his second UFC appearance and this time I expect him to get the job done. What we saw in the Dominican’s UFC debut was the aggressive, high-performance style he used to start his career 8-0.
Chase Sherman might be a wild card, so he’s definitely a threat to catch an unsuspecting Cortez-Acosta in a fight. He can also lure Cortes-Acosta into a fight if a less experienced fighter is too eager to land a knockout punch. Cortes-Acosta has only one mode so far – forward, forward, forward, so Sherman can surprise him with a counterattack.
Overall, I love what Cortez-Acosta brings to the UFC heavyweight division, and until he faces a fighter with better punching technical skills than Sherman and his previous opponent Jared Vanderaa, I give him an advantage over the opponent.
To choose: Cortes-Acosta
Andre Fialho vs. Muslim Salikhov
Muslim Salikhov’s shot is nice to watch when he finds the distance, but I have serious questions about how he will handle Andre Fialho’s pressing game. The former PFL fighter has proven himself to be one of the busiest and most aggressive welterweight forwards in his four UFC appearances this year, an approach that could give Salikhov a nervous breakdown.
Ideally, Salikhov uses Fialho’s aggression and breaks him down into three rounds, a formula that has brought him great success in his career. The 38-year-old also loves throwing roundhouse kicks, and a few good body kicks can go a long way in holding back Fialho’s advance. However, you have to be perfect to fight the way Salikhov does, and he looked a step slower in his recent loss to Li Jingliang. It should be noted that Salikhov enters the octagon on Saturday with an opponent 10 years younger than him.
Experience is always a plus, but Fialho has both experience and youth on his side, so I am in favor of him recovering from a slow start, outliving Salikhov and finishing in the last round.
To choose: Fialho
Jack Della Maddalena vs. Danny Roberts
This is quality matchmaking if the UFC is investing in Jack Della Maddalena. Danny Roberts is a skilled opponent who can take a hit but still cause a lot of problems on his feet. It’s the right move for Della Maddalena after overtaking his first two UFC opponents.
The power of Della Maddalena is hard to deny. Technique aside, the Aussie has power in his fists that can’t be taught, and if he isn’t already one of the most feared finishers in the welterweight division, he should be. Roberts is a good defensive fighter, but he’s been on the wrong end of a viral clip more than once. It will be interesting to see if Della Maddalena can cut off the cage and find a place for the remaining bomb while Roberts works to counter and rip him apart with a solid move.
Win or lose, we’ll get a better idea of Della Maddalena’s prospects because Roberts won’t give up that easily. However, when he does, it will be the result of Della Maddalena breaking him with a strong punch and putting him on record.
To choose: Magdalene
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Ricky Turcios def. Kevin Christmas
Vanessa Demopoulos victorious Maria Oliveira
Brady Histand def. Fernie Garcia
Teresa Bleda victorious Natalya Silva