Although he just set the UFC record for most knockouts across all divisions with his first-round finish of Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 45, not everyone is a believer in heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis. Former MMA referee and current Bellator analyst and commentator John McCarthy spoke on Lewis’ record-setting win and he doesn’t believe that the former two-time title challenger will become champion one day.
Speaking on his “Weighing In” podcast which he hosts alongside Josh Thomson, “Big John” discussed why Derrick Lewis will be a gatekeeper throughout his career, taking into account the two title fights he’s already had where he came up short.
“He is a gatekeeper, though. Because he’s been given two title shots, he had the one against Cormier, he lost that one. He had the interim one against Ciryl Gane, he lost that one. Look, he can fight, he’s tough. He’s got certain aspects of the fighting game that he’s incredible pwoerful at. His ground-and-pound is mean.”
The compliments didn’t end from McCarthy towards Derrick Lewis, but he would go on to mention the type of fighters who will give “The Black Beast” issues inside the Octagon, and why he doesn’t feel he’ll become UFC champion.
“He is super-strong, but technical guys are going to give him fits, so is he ever going to be that guy that’s going to be the champion? I don’t think so. I don’t think he’s got that. If you’re the UFC, you’re saying ‘If you can beat Derrick Lewis, you’re in this upper tier of the guys that we’re going to think about putting in title fights. If you can’t, it’s saying something about you.'” (H/T MMA Junkie)
Back in 2018, Derrick Lewis fought in his first UFC title fight but came up short against Daniel Cormier, ad while he’d lose his second straight following the title fight, he’d bounce back with a four-fight winning streak. That streak would come to an end at UFC 265 in August of this year when Lewis was slotted to face Ciryl Gane for the interim heavyweight title, but came up short and was finished in the third round.
Looking to make a statement to the top of the heavyweight division, Lewis bounced back from his loss to Gane and set the knockout record in his fight against Daukaus. In the UFC’s final show of 2021, Lewis finished Daukaus for his 13th career knockout under the UFC banner.
There are not many contenders outside of Derrick Lewis at the top of the heavyweight division, and with Gane set to face reigning champion Francis Ngannou at UFC 270 in January, the top contenders will start to get a more clear picture of what’s next. Outside of the two fighters who will unify the title in January, Lewis is joined by former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, and ranked-contender Curtis Blaydes as the those waiting in the wings for an opportunity at a title fight.
Lewis holds a knockout victory over Blaydes in 2021, so the cards may fall in place that Lewis could be a fight or two away from once again competing for UFC heavyweight gold.