Derrick “Black Beast” Lewis (21-7) is currently one of the most popular fighters in the UFC stemming from his personality, his friendship with famous Houston rappers, his fight finishes, and his post-fight interviews. His knockout power and ability to come out on top through adversity is what makes him a fan favorite. At various points in time, he managed to catch Daniel Cormier and Junior Dos Santos off-guard with surprise attacks and mounted famous comeback victories over Marcin Tybura, Travis Brown and Alexander Volkov. He’s also well-known for his hilarious Instagram page and is a local celebrity around the Houston area who, along with many others, helped in rescue efforts during Hurricane Harvey.
It feels good to help people pic.twitter.com/RtyYIkdGor — Derrick Lewis (@Thebeast_ufc) August 28, 2017
Despite his accomplishments in the cage, many critical observers will note that Derrick Lewis has holes in his fight game. And to be simple, the holes in his fight game tend to be takedowns, takedown defense, and especially bottom ground fighting.
Some critics might point out a lack of variety when it comes to his strikes but I don’t think that’s the case at all. Lewis’s past three fights show him executing technically sound kicks. He has even gotten into the habit of setting up his famous over-hand with jabs in his fight against Volkov.
A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Aug 18, 2019 at 5:26pm PDT
Critics ,ay say that Lewis’s cardio is an issue but others will note that it’s not as big of an issue as people think. Granted, he doesn’t keep a high pace in his fights but he a lot of his matches have either gone the distance or gotten pretty close.
A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Aug 30, 2019 at 2:11pm PDT
It’s pretty clear that his weaknesses lie with his overall grappling game. Fans have watched Lewis deliver vicious ground-and-pound while smashing a fighters guard but the power of his punches create the openings for his position changes. Plus, Lewis’s takedowns are too sloppy to implement his top ground game at will. Most of his ground and pound opportunities have come from knockdowns or scrambles on the ground.
Lewis’s takedown defense tends to disappear once his fights go past three minutes. It was part of the reason why he completely nullified by Daniel Cormier and almost suffered a decision loss from Marcin Tybura. As far as fighting from his back, he usually gets flattened in side control or half-guard with little movement or chance of going on the offensive with submissions.
So how is it that Derrick Lewis has got this far with grappling that’s not quite on par with the UFC’s upper echelon of heavyweights?
Even when looking at his training regiment, it’s hard to find answers.
Lewis’s main coach is Bob Perez; more commonly known amongst Houston’s fight community as Kru Bob. He’s highly revered around the city for his understanding of striking. His base in boxing and knowledge in Muay Thai have set the groundwork for his ability to train people for kickboxing and MMA. Perez is a certified kru under Saekson Janjira and started his Muay Thai training with Houston-area trainer Thussayu Phumswarng, better known as Kru Pong. Many consider Kru Bob to be one of the top trainers around the Houston area.
Kru Bob Perez
Kru Bob Perez certainly has picked up some knowledge of grappling and ground work being around so many gyms and MMA coaches. So naturally, he should be able to integrate that into getting Derrick Lewis prepared for fights. Yet, we see it’s a weakness with Lewis on fight nights. Perhaps Kru Bob’s critics have a point…
Amazing private this morning w my dude @realchingobling . I'm so impressed by his work ethic, positivity, and never quit mentality. I truly believe this is what makes him so successful. He's super talented, but it's that work ethic that separates him from the rest. #mainstreetboxingandmuaythai #mainstreet #gym #houston #boxing #muaythai #mma #martialarts #comdey #comedian #entertainer #entrepreneur #latino #latinos #work
A post shared by Bob Perez (@krubobperez) on Sep 27, 2019 at 10:07am PDT
What also might be an issue for Lewis is finding proper training partners. A man with the size and strength of Lewis can easily out-muscle guys and not give practice to drill proper technique to fight someone with similar size and strength. Good partners are really important to make sure a fighter doesn’t have a false sense of confidence in their grappling skills.
Grappling skills might prove to be a very important factor for Lewis’s match against Blagoy Ivanov (18-2). Anybody can look at Ivanov’s past fights and notice that he has a tenacity when it comes to his takedowns. It’s obvious to see that Ivanov loves to stand and bang too but if he really wants a victory against the Black Beast, he will use his wrestling skills. Especially because Ivanov is fighting out of AKA the same training camp as other skilled grapplers like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Fitch, and Daniel Cormier. In my opinion, Derrick Lewis has a good chance since his X-factor (yes, I like using that term) always proves that he is getting better from fight to fight. Fans will see this weekend if Lewis and his training camp have addressed the flaws in his grappling.
Lewis will fight Ivanov on the main card of UFC 244 on November 2nd at Madison Square Garden. The event will be headlined by Nate Diaz and Jorge Masivdal for the BMF title. Main card will begin at 10pm in the eastern time zone.■
A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on Aug 1, 2019 at 2:21pm PDT