Although he had much of the MMA community rooting for him, beloved heavyweight knockout artist Derrick Lewis was not able to defy the odds in his short-notice UFC 230 title fight with the division’s apex predator Daniel Cormier. Instead, Lewis was soundly outwrestled and ultimately submitted in the bout’s second round.
That being said, Derrick Lewis’ allure has not diminished. While he generally fights with all the elegance and finesse of a wrecking ball, he is, by the same token, still capable of reducing pretty much anybody to a pile of bones and leather, and could conceivably still capture the UFC heavyweight title in the future, particularly once The Baddest Man on the Planet/ World’s Greatest Dad Daniel Cormier has driven his minivan off into the sunset.
Lewis merely needs the opportunity to get back on his feet.
But who among the dangerous beasts that populate the heavyweight savanna should he fight next? Despite the back injury that has plagued his recent career, he’s actually managed to keep a pretty busy schedule and has met many of his rivals already as a result. That said, there are still a couple of fresh and interesting matchups out there for him.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Former Strikeforce, Dream and K-1 heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is currently booked for a fight with the debuting Sergey Pavlovich at at UFC Beijing. But if Overeem can thwart this challenge — which is by no means a certainty — he’d make an interesting dance partner for Derrick Lewis. Sure, many fans would understandably worry about Overeem’s chin being in the blast radius of Lewis’ kettlebell-sized fists, but it’s also easy to imagine Overeem dissecting the often lethargic Derrick Lewis with his superb striking arsenal too. Which outcome would we get? Only one way to find out.
Rising heavyweight contender Justin “The Big Ticket” Willis is currently gearing up for a potentially career-changing UFC Adelaide showdown with allegedly-retiring MMA legend Mark Hunt. If Willis is able to pass this test, he’ll probably vault into the UFC heavyweight top-10, at which point a fight with Derrick Lewis would make quite a bit of sense. Furthermore, the two heavyweights match up nicely on paper.
Shortly after Justin Willis battles Mark Hunt at UFC Adelaide, surging Australian heavyweight contender Tai Tuivasa will battle former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos in the main event. If Tai Tuivasa can topple Dos Santos — and that’s a big if — he would make a seemingly perfect opponent for Derrick Lewis. Just think about it. Not only is it almost certain that one of these two refrigerator-sized men would produce a thunderous knockout victory, but as two as the division’s top ranked big boys, the winner would also be propelled right into the middle of the heavyweight title conversation.
Who do you want to see Derrick Lewis fight after his UFC 230 loss to Daniel Cormier (provided he can ever make it back down to 265 pounds again now that he’s entitled to free Popeyes chicken for life)?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/5/2018.