It appears the UFC was serious about Derrick Lewis being the next title challenger to face heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and not Jon Jones. After Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March, there was a very public feud between the former light heavyweight champion Jones, and the UFC as many expected Jones to be the first title challenger.
Jones has been out of competition since UFC 247 in February of 2020 when he defended his light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes and shortly afterward, vacated his title and made his intentions known of moving up to heavyweight to eventually compete for the title. One of the biggest superstars in the sport, Jones has said he needs a big payday to fight Ngannou and it doesn’t appear the UFC was willing to meet the price.
During a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports, Dana White spoke about the first title challenger for Ngannou and says it is more than likely going to be Derrick Lewis.
“It’s probably going to be the Black Beast. At the end of the day, Derrick Lewis and Ngannou is the fight. That’s the fight to make right now. Derrick Lewis is a heavyweight, he’s been fighting at heavyweight, he’s earned this shot, he’s got a win over him [Francis]. It’s the fight to make.”
While their first fight left much to be desired as two of the most exciting and powerful punchers in the UFC lacked offense and excitement in their first fight at UFC 226, White says he expects things to go much differently in the rematch.
“That fight didn’t do what everybody expected it to do, but it can’t go bad twice.”
Derrick Lewis has competed once for the title back at UFC 230 in November of 2018 when he was defeated by former champion Daniel Cormier. Recently, Lewis has gone on a four-fight winning streak, picking up victories over Blagoy Ivanov, Ilir Latifi, Aleksi Oleinik, and in his last fight this past February, he defeated Curtis Blaydes by second-round knockout.