Derrick Lewis showed off plenty of power and a new level of conditioning to get the job done in his heavyweight fight against Blagoy Ivanov at UFC 244.
Following knee surgery and an improved strength and conditioning program, Lewis was able to look his best for three rounds while fending off a game counter attack from Ivanov on Saturday night. In the end, Lewis got the split decision win with two judges giving him scorecards reading 30-24 and 29-28 with the third official going for Ivanov with a 29-28 score.
“I really tried to hit him in that booty hole he got in his chest,” Lewis said following his win while referencing the scar from a knife attack that Ivanov wears on his midsection.
To avoid the colossal power coming from Lewis in the early going, Ivanov looked to take the fight to the ground after latching into a well-timed single leg takedown. Ivanov attempted a key lock once he got to side control but Lewis quickly reacted by exploding off the canvas to escape the submission and get back to his feet.
As soon as he got back to a standing position, Lewis started throwing hammers aimed directly at Ivanov’s head. It appeared Ivanov was rattled but he recovered while holding onto the clinch to avoid any more bombs coming from Lewis.
The second round saw the fight dissolve into an absolute slugfest after Lewis tagged Ivanov with a solid punch that put him on rubber legs. Lewis plowed forward with a barrage of punches that continued to blast away at Ivanov.
Somehow, Ivanov not only absorbed the punishment but managed to return fire and doing some damage of his own before getting a well-timed takedown. Ivanov once again went back to the key lock trying to get the submission but Lewis was able to resist before again working his way off the canvas.
Another crazy flurry followed with Lewis hurting Ivanov yet again, which was followed by another takedown from the Bulgarian.
After an action-packed 10 minutes, Lewis and Ivanov were understandably slower to start the third and final round. Whenever he threw a punch, however, Lewis was still uncorking fight-ending power, which forced Ivanov to be very careful when trying to find his way inside.
Lewis closed the fight with one last burst as he came head hunting for the knockout but he couldn’t find the opening to put Ivanov away.
Still after three rounds, Lewis did enough damage to return to the win column after two straight losses while Ivanov suffers his first setback after earning back-to-back wins in his past two performances.