Bob Perez has been helping mold heavyweight contender Derrick Lewis into one of the most dangerous and powerful forces in the entire division for around seven years now. The MMA coach told Heavy he’s grateful for Lewis as a fighter but also all the things Lewis has helped Perez learn over the years as their relationship has grown from trainer and fighter to genuine friendship.
“Derrick has helped me become a better coach,” Perez said. “Derrick has helped me, just he’s shown me, he comes from a different walk of life than I do. I mean, I came up kind of rough and we didn’t have a lot of money, but Derrick had a tough, tough, tough childhood, and he went through some amazing stuff. It really showed me to appreciate the metamorphosis that fighters can go through.”
Among the most difficult things that Lewis went through on his journey toward becoming one of the most menacing UFC fighters in the world included spending three-and-half years in prison after violating parole. The incident that landed him that parole was an altercation with a member of the Klu Klux Klan. The other person was armed with a shotgun, but Lewis was the one who ended up in court over the matter.
Follow the Heavy on UFC Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Lewis Hopes to Inspire Others
Still, Lewis told Heavy he was glad to be at a point in his career now where he could now look back at what happened in his life and see the benefit his past experiences might have for others.
“Yeah, because everyone really could relate to my story,” Lewis said. “Because everyone been through tough times in their life. Maybe trying to stretch and crawl and get out of their situation and they look at me and my story and see that I had way worse than them.”
Lewis hopes what he’s able to do in the Octagon now helps inspire people to do whatever it is they’re called to do in their own lives.
“And they can really come out of whatever they going through,” Lewis said.
A Bond Beyond Fighting
Lewis and Perez share a bond that goes beyond fighting. The Houston-based coach is one of the most intriguing people in combat sports, and he told Heavy he was grateful his journey as a coach had allowed him to become part of Lewis find in fighting what Perez believes the fighter was born to do.
“In all honesty man, I think, I know for a fact, God put Derrick on this earth for him to fight,” Perez said. “That’s what he’s meant for. That’s what he’s meant to do. And the way he found it, you know he went through some struggles but the way he found it and it’s surreal, it’s movie-worthy.”
Lewis is tied for first place (with Cain Velasquez and Dos Santos) on the list for total knockouts in the UFC’s heavyweight division at 10. In facing Ilir Latifi at UFC 247 on Saturday night in Houston, Lewis has the chance to put himself in the top position.
Lewis Predicts Bright Future
While the 34-year-old, who lives and trains in Houston, will be gunning for the honor in front of his hometown crowd, he said part of his earlier troubles in life helped him learn how to take accountability for his part in all actions.
“I was a knucklehead back then,” Lewis said. “I learned from my mistakes. Gotta move forward. Can’t dwell on it. It’s a mistake, and you just gotta get better now.”
Now Lewis intends on creating a future that includes more big fights against the best heavyweights the UFC has to offer. Still, however that works out, Lewis believes his future is bright.
“I predict my future is basically the way I want things to be from now on,” Lewis said.
READ NEXT: Jon Jones’ Best and Latest Opponents Reveal Why He’s UFC’s King