Curtis Blaydes made no apologies about his strategy coming into a huge heavyweight fight with Derrick Lewis. Blaydes was going to use his dominant wrestling early and often. He told anyone who would listen.
Maybe it was a decoy. But Blaydes should have stuck to his original game plan, as Lewis crushed him with an uppercut knockout at 1:26 of the second round in Saturday’s main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
Blaydes gained confidence on the feet in the first round and attempted only one takedown, which Lewis stuffed. And Lewis, one of the most dangerous KO artists in the history of MMA, made him pay.
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It was the biggest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Lewis was a +350 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, ESPN’s odds provider. Bisping was +400 against Rockhold five years ago.
With the stoppage, Lewis ties Vitor Belfort with the most knockouts in UFC history (12).
Lewis also is now tied for the second-most wins in UFC heavyweight history (16) with Frank Mir. Andrei Arlovski is the all-time UFC heavyweight victories leader, with 19.
Saturday’s finish came when Blaydes ducked in, trying to close the distance for a clinch or a takedown. Lewis saw it coming and let loose with a massive uppercut. Blaydes’ body shook on impact, and he was unconscious as he fell to the canvas. Lewis followed up on the ground with punches, until referee Herb Dean came in to pull him off.
“That was the only punch I was waiting for the entire fight,” Lewis said. “I knew he was gonna come in. … That’s all I was waiting for. I wasn’t worried about throwing a one-two, a jab or anything.”
The fight was originally arranged for Nov. 28, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, and the contest was pulled one day prior to the event before official weigh-ins.
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