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Derrick Lewis on Fight Against Chris Daukaus: ‘I’ve Got to Go In for the Kill’

Lewis looks to avoid consecutive losses for the first time since 2018 and return to title contention with a win Saturday at UFC Fight Night

This Saturday’s UFC Fight Night is critical for Derrick Lewis. 

Only once in his career has Lewis lost consecutive fights. That happened when he lost a UFC heavyweight title bout against Daniel Cormier in 2018, and then got knocked out by Junior dos Santos in his very next fight. After falling to Ciryl Gane this past August in an interim heavyweight title bout, Lewis will seek to avoid a losing streak when he fights seventh-ranked Chris Daukaus this Saturday.

Currently third in the heavyweight division, Lewis (25-8, 1 NC) will hold his spot in the rankings with a victory. That will keep him just a step removed from the title picture, but certainly within striking distance.

Speaking with Sports Illustrated before the fight, Lewis discussed the loss to Ciryl Gane, what he most respects about Daukaus, and shared his pick for next month’s Gane-Francis Ngannou title bout.

Sports Illustrated: The opportunity to fight for the heavyweight title in your home of Houston was so meaningful for you, but that turned out to be Ciryl Gane’s night. How difficult was it to recover from coming so close to reaching your goal?

Derrick Lewis: A couple weeks after that fight, I felt like it was going to be tough to ever come back [and fight again]. But I took some time off, talked to some positive people, and I believe the right thing to do is get back in there against an opponent like Chris [Daukaus].

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SI: Reflecting on that fight against Gane, do you know what you would do differently if you had the chance to run it back?

Lewis: I would do it differently. I thought too long about how much that fight meant to me. That day was the same day I’d got out of prison 13 years ago. Winning would have been a huge accomplishment and a great moment in my life, so I put a lot of pressure on myself. And I ended up being overwhelmed.

SI: You have never been handed opportunities, instead always earning them. Your story is one of perseverance and endurance and a willingness to fight. Is your goal to earn your back into the heavyweight title picture?

Lewis: I believe that is my story. I’ve been through a lot of tough times, but you can’t give up. You can’t quit. Everything happens for a reason. There is a reason I didn’t win that night, and even if I don’t see it right now, God will reveal it to me.

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SI: Ciryl Gane’s next fight is a title unification bout against heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou.

You have fought both Gane and Ngannou. Who is your pick to win?

Lewis: I think Ciryl will win by decision. But I really don’t care who wins.

SI: In order to get back in title contention, you need this victory on Saturday against Chris Daukaus, an extremely tough opponent who has won his past five. What do you respect most about Chris?

Lewis: I respect that he’s a police officer. I like that. When I was a kid, I wished that I was a police officer. So I like that, but that’s about it.

SI: It can be tough mentally to bounce back after a difficult loss. How is your mindset going into the fight on Saturday?

Lewis: I believe I’ll come out with the win. I understand this is really me battling me, so it’s two against one. As long as I keep my head clear, stay focused and stay positive, I believe I’ll come out with the win.

SI: Fair to say that a win is on your Christmas list?

Lewis: A win this weekend would be a great Christmas present for me. That would be Santa coming early.

SI: There is no one in MMA with your knockout power. How soon will we see that on Saturday?

Lewis: It’s going to be on display the first minute of the fight. I can’t wait around. I think his game plan is to pick me apart, so I’ve got to go in for the kill in the first few minutes of the fight.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.