Saturday’s co-main event is one of the most enticing non-title heavyweight fights in UFC history, with a pair of vicious brawlers and fan favorites going head-to-head in Lewis’ hometown of Houston.
Following his loss (also in Houston) to Ciryl Gane last August, Lewis was far more aggressive in his recent main event matchup with Chris Daukaus, recording a first-round finish for the first time
since 2016. Despite his power, the UFC’s all-time knockout king isn’t necessarily an under machine because he tends to sit back and wait for his opponents to make a mistake.Half of Lewis’s 24 UFC fights have gone past the 7.5-minute mark.
There is certainly a chance that Tuivasa looks to stand at range and blast Lewis repeatedly with low kicks, but it seems inevitable that these two end up swinging in the pocket relatively early.
While most opponents are hesitant against Lewis — and tend to get into staring contests because of his power — Tuivasa rarely commits to a game plan for a lengthy period of time, and his killer instinct is turned up to an 11.
The Aussie tends to overcommit to exchanges when he feels like he has an advantage, even if that leaves him open to big counters.
Lewis is the larger man (four-inch reach advantage) and though I doubt either man tries to grapple, he likely has the strength and wrestling advantage too, which justifies his status as favorite.
Lewis takes a lot of flak for his lack of MMA skills, but he is still adding to his tool belt, firing an accurate roundhouse kick and looking for a trip takedown in his last fight before finishing the proceedings with a collar tie:
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But the difference in his aggression was key to the outcome. Lewis’ coaches encouraged him to pursue his opponent, rather than putting his back to the cage, losing minutes and allowing his opponent to find a rhythm. That aggression produced a violent finish.
As a result, I wouldn’t expect to watch Lewis stand back and let Tuivasa kick his leg apart, instead launching forward at one of those naked kick attempts and try to catch the Aussie clean or at least back him up to the fence.
If Lewis comes forward and Tuivasa refuses to back up, one of these heavyweights will fall.However, “Bam Bam” likely needs to work the legs and body if he wants to put Lewis down, whereas “The Black Beast” is much likelier to end this fight with one punch