LAS VEGAS — Derrick Lewis is still going to take it. Of course, he will. How could anyone pass it up?
But the wildly popular UFC heavyweight still is uncertain that he deserves to be the true next in line for the title. Lewis will challenge Daniel Cormier for the belt in the main event of UFC 230 on Nov. 3 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. He continues to acknowledge, though, that Stipe Miocic — the former champ — probably should be the one getting the nod.
“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 Thursday at a media day at the UFC Performance Institute. “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.”
Lewis, 33, said that his knockout punch of Alexander Volkov earlier this month at UFC 229 is probably worth about $1 million to him now. The Houston resident said he’ll make more at UFC 230 against Cormier than he has in his three previous fights this year combined.
So yeah, there’s no reason for “The Black Beast” to give up this chance. And to those criticizing him, saying he doesn’t deserve it? Lewis won’t lost any sleep over them. After all, he has won three in a row and nine of his last 10 fights with seven finishes in that span.
“I don’t care if they give me credit or not. I don’t care. I’m not a mixed martial artist,” Lewis said. “That’s probably what they looking at. And I don’t blame them. I don’t train like a mixed martial artist. I don’t respect the sport like everyone else does. I’m just a brawler. I go in to fight just to fight. I don’t care about submissions, the technique and all of that. Bowing and showing respect — I don’t give nothing about none of that. I’m just coming in and fighting.”
Lewis (21-5, 1 NC) beat Volkov by third-round knockout on Oct. 6 and was given a month-long medical suspension, because of a hard bout. Lewis was losing the whole way — and getting tuned up at times — until he landed the deciding blow. But Lewis, whose eyes were still red from the beating he received from Volkov, vowed to be 100 percent against Cormier. He was able to get his medical suspension reduced to three weeks by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC).
Cormier is also a bit banged up. He has said in multiple interviews that his hand is still injured from beating Miocic at UFC 226 in July. And he said Monday on The MMA Hour that he’s not sure if he’ll be 100 percent at UFC 230.
On Thursday, Lewis laughed off the notion that Cormier might have a bum hand.
“I go into every fight with a bad back and overweight and damn near diabetic,” Lewis said. “So it doesn’t matter to me that he’s coming into the fight with just a bad hand. That’s a good thing for him.”
Lewis said he doesn’t care a whole lot about winning the belt and he’s not seduced so much by the allure of fighting at Madison Square Garden, though he said it’s cool that Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson made their marks there. “The Black Beast” has said forever that he’s in the fight game to feed his family and he’ll make more money at UFC 230 than he ever has before.
Even if part of him believes it should be another man making the walk against Cormier.
“I still believe Stipe probably should have been next, because all the people that lost their belt, they got the title shot right back as soon as they lost it, they got the rematch,” Lewis said. “It is what it is. But I’m happy and grateful for the opportunity.”