Derrick Lewis thinks that Israel Adesanya was close to defending his title at UFC 281, but he also understands how hard it can be to stick to a plan once you step into the cage.
“The Black Beast” is set to take on Serghei Spivak in the main event of UFC Vegas 65. The heavyweight clash is very much a crossroads fight for both men; Spivak is coming off back-to-back stoppage wins and will be fighting in his first UFC main event, while Lewis was finished by Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich in his last two fights.
The 37-year-old’s loss to Pavlovich at UFC 277 in his most recent bout was a controversial one, as things ended in under a minute when the referee stepped in to save what appeared to be a still very coherent Lewis.
Last weekend’s UFC 281 saw a somewhat less controversial but considerably higher stakes stoppage in the card’s main event between Israel Adesanya and Alex Pereira.
After putting on a solid performance that looked to have him just a few minutes away from defending his middleweight title, Adesanya found himself eating punches from Pereira in the fifth round before referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop the bout.
“I’m Sure That He Didn’t Wanna Do That”
UFC 281 was one of the biggest events of the year, and at the UFC Vegas 65 media day Lewis was asked if he had watched the fight between Adesanya and Pereira.
Like many fans, Lewis felt that Adesanya was in control of the fight before the finishing sequence that saw Pereira batter “The Last Stylebender” against the fence.
It was a disappointing result for Adesanya after he largely avoided danger for the majority of the bout, but “The Black Beast” sympathized with how the bright lights of the Octagon can affect a game plan.
Adesanya lost his middleweight title via fifth-round TKO at UFC 281. (Zuffa LLC)
“Yeah, I watched it,” Lewis answered. “I thought [Adesanya] was winning the fight, he was doing good. It’s just hard, I’m pretty sure his game plan wasn’t to back straight up against the cage. I’m sure that he didn’t wanna do that, but it’s completely different whenever you step inside the Octagon. You wanna do the game plan, but sometimes it just goes straight out of the window.”
The heaviest fight on the UFC 281 main card was the middleweight main event, but the top bouts at UFC Vegas 65 will showcase the promotion’s heaviest weight classes.
In addition to the headliner between Lewis and Spivak, the main card includes another heavyweight tilt between Chase Sherman and the undefeated Waldo Cortes-Acosta as well as a light heavyweight co-main event featuring Ion Cutelaba and Kennedy Nzechukwu.
What do you make of the comments from Lewis on how Adesanya performed at UFC 281?