MMA Record: 11-2
UFC Record: 6-1
Notable Wins: Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski, Curtis Blaydes
Notable Losses: Stipe Miocic
Last Fight: Decision loss to Stipe Miocic
Fighter Profile: One of the most fearsome heavyweights in the game, Ngannou had a quick and vicious rise up the UFC heavyweight ladder, culminating in a brutal KO win over Overeem that earned him a crack at the UFC heavyweight title. He was favored to beat the champion Miocic but ended up getting exposed as far as his takedown defense and cardio goes and lost a decision. It was impressive that he made it the full 25 minutes with the champion but clearly it was the weakest performance of Ngannou’s career overall. The guy is an athletic freak and a quick learner in MMA, but he’ll need to string together a couple of wins to make it back into title contention again. With the amount of KO power he has, Ngannou has the chance to beat anyone at any given time in the heavyweight division, and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the loss to Miocic.
MMA Record: 19-5, 1 NC
UFC Record: 9-3
Notable Wins: Marcin Tybura, Roy Nelson, Travis Browne
Notable Losses: Matt Mitrione, Mark Hunt, Shawn Jordan
Last Fight: TKO win over Marcin Tybura
Fighter Profile: One of the most powerful punchers in the UFC heavyweight division, Lewis has carved out a fine career for himself over the last four years in the UFC, picking up eight knockout wins in the Octagon. He has huge power in his fists and he can either knock his opponents out standing or on the ground. We’ve seen Lewis get knocked out a couple times but generally he is tough and has good cardio. He called out Ngannou for a long time and the UFC is finally giving him the chance to fight him and take his No. 1 contender spot in the UFC heavyweight rankings. It should be a great fight and a win puts Lewis in the heavyweight title talks.
Fight Breakdown: This is a heavyweight bout between two massive punchers and I don’t see any way it lasts the three rounds. Either guy can get the knockout in this one, but based on the crazy odds for this fight I’m going to go on a limb and take the underdog in Lewis. As good as Ngannou is, I’m not sure what justifies him as such a big favorite against a guy like Lewis who has proven time and time again in the Octagon that he has massive knockout power. Lewis also has a really good ground game and I wouldn’t be surprised to try and see him take this fight to the ground and expose Ngannou’s wrestling defense. Could Ngannou go out there and flatten Lewis? Of course he could. But as a three-to-one or bigger underdog, I’ll take the chance that this is Lewis’ fight to win, and I’ll take him to shock the world and pick up the biggest knockout win of his career.
Prediction: Derrick Lewis via TKO