UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis revealed his epic curse to Heavy.
The 34-year-old enters his next fight against Ilir Latifi at UFC 247 tied at 10 for the most knockouts in UFC heavyweight history. Lewis currently shares that record with Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. The Houston-based heavyweight is considered one of the hardest punchers in the history of the company.
Still, Lewis said having such a powerful punch at his disposal did feel like a curse at times.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Lewis said. “I rely on my power a lot in fights, especially my right hand, but sometimes I wait too long to get this thing going.”
Lewis probably doesn’t want that to happen on Saturday when he faces Latifi at the Toyota Center in Houston. After all, Lewis will face Latifi with the real chance to notch the highest total of UFC heavyweight knockouts in history all by himself at 11.
Latifi is a career light heavyweight moving up in weight to the UFC’s biggest division for the first time in his career, so it would likely behoove Lewis to remind the 36-year-old why weight classes exist in the first place.
“I know I’ve got to get it going in the first few minutes of the fight instead of the last few minutes,” Lewis said.
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Cursed Power Was Blessing During Epic 2018 Comeback Win
But Lewis stole the show with is epic one-punch power back in 2018 at UFC 229.
In that fight, Lewis showed perhaps within a single fight why being such a tremendously hard puncher was both a good and bad thing for the fighter when he was outfought for nearly 15 minutes by Alexander Volkov only to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with just seconds left.
“Yeah, but I already came into the fight telling my coach it’d be cool if I could have one of those Rocky movie moments,” Lewis said. “Because I was fighting the guy from Russia, and he looked like the big Russian from that Rocky movie, Ivan Drago.”
It certainly was just like a scene from a movie. The thunderous come-from-behind knockout was one of the most shocking moments in UFC history.
“So I was like, it would be cool if I come back at the end and knock him out,” Lewis said. “Before him, I was always having fights like that anyway, I come back at the end and knock them out. I said that’d be real cool to come back and knock him out like that.”
Holding Epic UFC KO Record Alone Would Be Fitting to Overall Story
Coach Bob Perez told Heavy that Lewis putting himself in first-place all alone atop the UFC’s list for most heavyweight knockouts in history would be a fitting piece to the overarching story of the fighter’s entire life.
After all, Lewis, 34, rose out of difficult circumstances to become one of the most popular figures in the sport, thanks to his hugely powerful fists and larger-than-life personality. But it took more than those two things for Lewis to get where he is today.
“Derrick changed his life with fighting,” Perez said.
Lewis rose out of poverty and spent three-and-a-half years in prison for violating parole before his fighting days ever even began, but the fighter didn’t let any of those things keep him from achieving his hopes and dreams inside the Octagon.
Perez said Lewis’ life story was movie-worthy, and that part of the story that would be told someday via film would be how the fighter envisioned his future long before any of it actually happened.
Need an example?
“On his chest, he’s got a tattoo that says: Knockout King,” Perez said. “But he got that back before he was doing stuff as a fighter yet. And now, he could legitimately become the knockout king for the largest, greatest company in the fighting industry. And to me, that just means the world to me.”
For Perez, that kind of thing is more than just a fighter having hopes and dreams about his future. Rather, it’s something more like providence or fate.
“And I think just the beauty of it is like this poetic justice.”
UFC 247 takes place Saturday at the Toyota Center in Houston. The main card airs on ESPN+ pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.