Derrick Lewis believes he will knockout UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou in the first round if they are going to face off again.
“I will say the first exchange, I’ll knock him out in the first exchange. I almost knocked out Curtis (Blaydes) in the first exchange, too, but he got on that bike and he took off running,” Lewis said while speaking on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on Saturday.
“I feel that in my heart, especially if he comes out the way he’s been coming out to all his other guys, especially the way he came out against (Jairzinho) Rozenstruik. If he tries to come out and fight me the same way, then I’ll knock him out for sure,” the 36-year-old fighter added as quoted by MMA Junkie.
Lewis, who claims the record for most knockouts in the championship’s history (12), said that he has elevated his game since the last time both fought at UFC 226 co-main event in July 2018.
The first Lewis-Ngannou showdown did not live up to the hype. Lewis bagged a win via unanimous decision, but fans were a tad disappointed to see the fight between the heavy strikers go numb. Instead of going all guns blazing, they chose to play it safe.
Lewis feels that he could replicate the victory but with a knockout this time.
However, a lot has changed in three years. Ngannou has become the heavyweight champion after thumping Stipe Miocic in March. He has become a much more well-rounded fighter with time.
Derrick Lewis blames himself for the last lacklustre fight
The heavyweight did not mince his words when he recalled the Ngannou fight. He blamed his game plan for the dud fight that did not appear as entertaining as the fans anticipated.
He told Helwani: “It really wasn’t his fault. I’m not gonna sit up here and blame him. I’m gonna say it was my fault mostly. I came in that fight in half-assed training and didn’t take care of my body the way I was supposed to that fight, so I blame myself.”
Lewis feels that he has more experience under his belt since the 2018 showdown. “I know that what I need to do to really get the job done,” he said.
While the UFC has not confirmed who will be Ngannou’s next opponent, the current scenario indicates that Lewis might get his title shot soon.
Francis Ngannou eyes Jon Jones fight
Francis Ngannou has not shown any interest in facing Lewis since he became the division champ. The 34-year-old has backed the fans’ idea to take on Jon Jones next.
If UFC President Dana White books the Jones-Ngannou fight, this will mark Jones’s heavyweight debut.
The former two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has been packing on weight for the last few months since he announced ditching the LHW strap for the heavyweight division.
He has also shown interest in the fight but demanded the UFC to pay him more than $10 million for the fight.