Not long is left until UFC 230 gets underway so with that in mind we’re going to have a go at predicting the main-event showdown between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis.
X-factors like the power and sheer physical strength of Derrick Lewis make picking winners in this sport a tricky business – especially when the margin for error is as slim as it is at heavyweight – but we all know how this fight looks on paper.
On the feet, the technical advantage will go to Daniel Cormier. He’s got the speed, the smoother technique and the pressure to sap the vast majority of the heavyweights on the roster.
The advantages in the grappling department are perhaps even more skewed in DC’s favour. The man is one of the elite-of-the-elite when it comes to wrestling and with his numerous credentials – including his status as a former-Olympian, it really shouldn’t be a contest if the fight hits the mat.
And yet, because of Lewis and his x-factors, this fight remains a far more compelling pairing than many understand.
The sheer size of Derrick Lewis sometimes allows him to quite literally stand up and brush off massive heavyweights from the top position. His ability to explode out of a bad position to his feet looks akin to someone getting out of bed.
That is pure strength, folks.
Against a man in Daniel Cormier who he will outweigh by a considerable margin, it could well come down to DC’s ability to control him versus Derrick’s sheer strength.
If we’re to assume that Cormier wants this on the mat or up against the cage, draining The Black Beast and limiting those bursts will be critical.
With that being said, however, I think this fight is going to have quite a bit of action on the feet relative to the bout’s duration.
Like his matchups against Anthony Johnson and most recently, Volkan Oezdemir, DC will like his chances on the feet against dangerous power given his speed advantage and while he, of course, has shown a tendency to duck his head to the right, I can’t see Lewis having the timing or the speed necessary to land one of those wild leaping kicks on the button.
If Cormier does shoot and can establish control, it could well be a fight-ender. Lewis’ ability to power his way to his feet does leave his back open at times and as we know, DC is one of the best in the division at slapping on a rear-naked choke.
I don’t think there’s enough credit being given to DC’s shot at getting a KO/TKO victory in this one either. The speed will be there for him all night and if he does prefer a standing approach, do not be surprised if he at least tags The Black Beast.
Derrick’s power has served him well in the past and who knows, it may well win him the heavyweight title tomorrow night, but if I have to make a flat-out prediction, I don’t see it being enough.
Now don’t get me wrong, if Lewis goes out there and absolutely starches him in the first exchange, the last exchange, or anywhere in between, I would not be surprised in the slightest.
We’re looking at this fight in terms of what we know, however, and Derrick’s x-factors are just too unpredictable to put his name forth as the victor in this one.
Cormier will walk him down from the off and while there will be exchanges, I can’t see the champion getting tagged. That right-hand will be a danger to him from the first bell to the last but I would imagine that the submission will come for him some time in the second round.
Prediction: Daniel Cormier by rear-naked choke in the second round.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena