Derrick Lewis swung the sledgehammer with predictably violent consequences.
“The Black Beast” moved ever closer to another crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight crown, as he knocked out Curtis Blaydes in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 185 main event on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Lewis drew the curtain 1:26 into Round 2, improving to 16-5 inside the Octagon with his fourth straight victory.
Blaydes outlanded the former Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder by a wide margin in the first round, administering damage to the head, body and legs. Lewis was undeterred, waited for the Elevation Fight Team representative to err and let the dynamite in his hands do the rest. Blaydes ducked into an uppercut early in Round 2, froze instantly and collapsed backward, the light switch having been flipped. Lewis followed him to the canvas and dropped two more right hands on the unconscious Naperville, Illinois, native before referee Herb Dean arrived on the scene.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Blaydes vs. Lewis,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Derrick Lewis vs. Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou loser: Lewis finds himself in a state of limbo while he waits for the situation in front of him to play out. The New Orleans native has pieced together a four-fight winning streak since his technical knockout loss to Junior dos Santos in March 2019, his knockout of Blaydes coming on the heels of consecutive victories over Blagoy Ivanov, Ilir Latifi and Alexey Oleynik. Miocic will defend the heavyweight championship in a rematch with Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27, and while Lewis has done enough to warrant a shot at the winner, the pending arrival of former light heavyweight titleholder and pound-for-pound ace Jon Jones complicates the situation. In the meantime, “The Black Beast” may be forced to choose from two options: wait on the sidelines or make something of a lateral move.
Yana Kunitskaya vs. Marion Reneau-Macy Chiasson winner: Despite conceding three takedowns and surrendering a significant swath of control time, Kunitskaya emerged with a unanimous decision over Nova Uniao’s Ketlen Vieira in the three-round women’s bantamweight co-headliner. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28. Kunitskaya outlanded her counterpart by a 215-35 margin in total strikes (47-7 in significant strikes) and unleashed the most impactful offensive burst of the fight in the waning seconds of the third round, where she progressed to top position and connected with multiple elbow strikes, one of which hacked open a deep cut near the Brazilian’s right eye. Chiasson will face Reneau at UFC Fight Night 188 on March 20.
Darrick Minner vs. Darren Elkins: Minner won for the fourth time in five outings and made noticeable strides under James Krause’s leadership at Glory MMA, as he outgrappled Charles Rosa to a unanimous decision in a three-round featherweight feature. The 37-fight veteran swept the scorecards with 30-26, 30-27 and 29-27 marks from the judges. Minner executed four takedowns, piled up more than 12 minutes of control time and outstruck the American Top Team-trained Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt by better than a 2-to-1 margin in their 15-minute affair. Elkins last appeared at UFC on ESPN 17, where he submitted Luiz Eduardo Garagorri with a third-round rear-naked choke on Nov. 7.
Chris Daukaus vs. Augusto Sakai-Shamil Abdurakhimov winner: Daukaus capitalized on his first opportunity to bring down a Top 10 contender, as he punched out Alexey Oleynik in the first round of their heavyweight showcase. Oleynik succumbed to blows 1:55 into Round 1. Daukaus remained calm under duress, shrugged off a clinch from the Russian submission specialist, denied an attempted takedown and tore into him with sweeping power punches. The Team Balance standout stunned Oleynik with a chopping right hand, pushed him to the fence and cut loose with knees and punches until the job was done. Daukaus has rattled off four consecutive victories, all of them first-round finishes. Sakai and Abdurakhimov will collide at UFC Fight Night 191 on May 1.
Tom Aspinall vs. Blagoy Ivanov-Marcin Tybura winner: With the wind of a six-fight winning streak filling his sails, Aspinall has put himself in position to break into the Top 15. The Team Kaobon prospect showed off the depth of his skills in his latest assignment, as he submitted former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski with a second-round rear-naked choke. Arlovski bowed out 1:09 into Round 2, tapping for just the second time in his storied 52-fight career. Aspinall, 27, has finished all six of his opponents during his current tear, five of them inside one round, and carries the look of a burgeoning contender in a division starved for young talent. Ivanov will lock horns with Tybura at UFC 260 on March 27.