LAS VEGAS — Derrick Lewis has a seven-figure right hand.
At a media day Thursday, the UFC heavyweight was asked to estimate how much his third-round knockout of Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 earlier this month has ended up being worth to him.
“It’s probably a million,” Lewis said. “Probably about a million.”
“The Black Beast,” already popular among hardcore MMA fans, will get a major step up — and a quick turnaround — when he challenges Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 230 at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Nov. 3. Lewis was at the UFC Performance Institute on Thursday to promote the bout.
The knockout blow after getting beaten up for the better part of three rounds and his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan — “because my balls was hot” is now part of the pop-culture lexicon — launched Lewis to stardom almost overnight. He’s up to 1.4 million followers on Instagram and celebrities like Lil’ Wayne were shouting him out on social media.
I’m the new biggest Black Beast fan!! That man a dawg! Slime wild!
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) October 7, 2018
Most importantly, Lewis said the results of UFC 229 have paid dividends in his paycheck. He said he stands to make more at UFC 230 than his three other fights this year combined. Lewis made $260,000 at UFC 226, $320,000 (plus a performance of the night bonus) at UFC 229 and presumably in the $300,000 range at UFC Austin (a performance of night bonus included), though Texas does not release guaranteed purse information.
That’s a total heading into UFC 230 of about $880,000. So Lewis figures to crack seven figures at MSG — or at least close to it.
“It’s probably more than I made this year already,” Lewis said.
Lewis, 33, said he was not joking in the past when he said he only trained 30 minutes per day. But when he saw how much he’d be making in this fight against Cormier, Lewis said he has already decided to step his game up.
“Not just the title on the line, whenever I saw my contract and see the zeroes, I was like, ‘OK, I can start training now,’” Lewis said. “Before, like I told y’all before, I don’t stay in the gym like everyone else does, my opponents. It’s pretty obvious, after the fight I’m laying all over the floor, I’m tired. Ready to go sit my ass down somewhere.
“But this fight right here, I’ve really been training all day long. Drinking more water than I need to be drinking. Really taking it more serious. There’s not gonna be no excuses for myself — win, lose or draw.”
The Houston resident thinks Cormier might not be taking him seriously, which would be a “mistake” in Lewis’ estimation. Cormier has been talking about coming into UFC 230 with a bad hand. Lewis thinks Cormier might see him as easy pickings, because of his reputation.
“Not really the UFC, just DC believes that,” said Lewis, who added that he will be 100 percent for the title fight, despite a hard bout against Volkov. “He’s thinking it’s gonna be an easy fight for his self. But go ahead and think that. It’s just crazy that I even made it this far with the type of training I’ve been putting in before each and every fight. I’m serious. I don’t stay in the gym all day like all my opponents do. I stay for 30 minutes, 35 minutes — and five minutes on my phone posting memes and stuff. But this camp right here, I’ve been really at the gym all day long.”
Lewis said he’s been doing “a lot of crazy stuff” in the gym these past two weeks that he doesn’t necessarily like. But he’s motivated. By the money, for sure. But also the stage at Madison Square Garden — where Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali fought — and the competition.
Like he said after UFC 229, Lewis still doesn’t think he deserves the title shot. Stipe Miocic did more than him, Lewis acknowledged. But how could he say no to this chance?
“It’s just one that I can’t pass up, because I know there’s a lot of guys in this division that probably deserve a shot more than I’m getting,” Lewis said. “I probably don’t deserve a shot more than Stipe, who should have got the shot. But ain’t no telling the next time I’m gonna get the opportunity, so I gotta jump on it anyways.”