For a little more than a round, it was obvious why Curtis Blaydes entered his UFC Fight Night main event with Derrick Lewis as a considerable betting favorite. But, as has long been the case for Lewis, it only takes one shot to completely change the course of a fight, as he scored a brutal upset knockout in the second round.
Lewis was hesitant to let his heavy hands go in the opening round, circling and seemingly waiting for a takedown attempt from one of the best wrestlers in the heavyweight division, keeping his hands in position to throw a counter uppercut in return. Blaydes responded by not pushing for a takedown, instead landing several heavy flurries of strikes, including big leg kicks that may have left Lewis’ base compromised had the fight continued into the later period of the planned five rounds.
Blaydes seemed content with having established himself as a threat on the feet from the start of the second round, immediately pushing to try to put Lewis on the ground. Lewis was able to defend well on the first takedown attempt, managing to keep himself upright and regain distance.
Moments later, Blaydes shot in for another takedown attempt, but the uppercut Lewis had been waiting to throw was finally available. After the Lewis uppercut landed, Blaydes crashed to the canvas. Before referee Herb Dean could step in, Lewis followed to the ground and landed two clean punches, leaving Blaydes unconscious on the Octagon floor for more than a minute.
“That was the only punch I was waiting for the whole fight,” Lewis said after the win. “That uppercut, I knew it was going to land. That’s all I was waiting on. I didn’t care about throwing a one-two or anything.”
The finish came at the 1:26 mark of Round 2 and ran Lewis’ winning streak to four. Blaydes was anticipating a spot in the title picture with a win over Lewis. With the roles reversed, Lewis was hesitant to call for a title shot. However, when pushed on the matter of which top heavyweight he would like to face by post-fight interviewer Michael Bisping, Lewis settled on the heavyweight champion.
“I guess Stipe,” Lewis said. “I like those wrestlers.”
With the victory, Lewis moved into a tie with Vitor Belfort for most knockouts in UFC history with 12. He also is now tied for second in all-time heavyweight wins in the Octagon with 16. He also became the biggest betting underdog since Bisping stopped Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016 to win in the main event of a UFC card at +350.