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All jokes aside, Derrick Lewis’ self analysis adds to his appeal

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There are many layers to UFC Heavyweight brawler, Derrick Lewis. Somewhere between dishing out knockouts and at times cringe-worthy poker-faced humor, there is a man who speaks openly and honestly about himself. The truth is in there, you just have to sift it out.

It’s easy to see why people are increasingly more excited about “The Black Beast.” At 32 years-old, he is the second youngest fighter in the heavyweight top 10 rankings. He is currently enjoying a 6 fight win streak, most of which have come by stoppage. What he lacks in technique, he makes up with power and determination.

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Lewis is also an avid jokester who elicits a multitude of reactions from interviewers, pundits, and fans of the sport.

His preferred method of stirring the pot is social media. Instagram and Twitter in particular. He will go from re-posting a shrewd meme about Valentine’s day, to skirting racial stereotypes in the name of black history month, to posting a video of him getting his feet rubbed, to asking about proper bathroom etiquette during a power outage.  

When he gets on the microphone, his deadpan delivery keeps people guessing. His immediate post-fight interview with Brian Stann after last Sunday’s UFC Fight Night win over Travis Browne is a prime example. First, he shrugged off the notion of body kicks that doubled him over as mainly a bowel movement issue. He then went on to say he enjoyed beating a guy that (allegedly) puts his hand on women while at the same time seeming to court Browne’s girlfriend, Ronda Rousey. He finished with explaining a need for time off because of all the training and sex he’s been getting.

It’s easy to pay attention only to the silliness when he shows up to a press conference wearing a tiny UFC belt and dons himself the new interim heavyweight champ. But if you listen closely and comb through the jokes, Lewis is a much more sober and thoughtful guy than he might let on.

There were several statements in last Sunday’s presser that showed off some of his more reasoned analyses.

In challenging guys that are supposed to beat him, for example, he explains how they give him the motivation to bring out the best in him come fight night.

“The thing is, the reason I’ve been calling out these guys left and right, that I know is better than me. It’s going to bring out the better fighter in myself. And I believe like, Travis – he’s a better fighter than me, like all the way around mixed martial artist – and I just feel like that it was just going to bring out a better fighter in myself and put on a better show for the fans.”

He was also open about the technical improvements he needs to make as a fighter, now that he will be facing much steeper competition from here on out.

“I hate throwing jabs, you know, to me jabs are just a waste of time. I just like to swing and bang. But I know that a lot of guys are going to start getting used to that and try to counter off of that.”

He also assesses what he thinks is the key counterbalance to his lack of pure technique.

“I believe I have the most heart in this division, and so my heart, it carried me throughout my whole six-fight win streak or whatever. It carried me my whole way. You can see I’ll be losing the first or second round, and [in] the third or fourth round or whatever – that heart, that beast mode just kick in automatically by itself, and I just thank god for that.”

Lewis has managed to sculpt his inside the cage persona around power, will, and determination. At the same time, he has become a unique, polarizing, and sometimes perplexing character in the public. His lack of affect and straightforward delivery keeps the audience guessing what will come out of his mouth next. Whether it’s a quip about treating his coaches like side chicks or evaluating the lack of getting behind his punches properly, the core of Lewis’ appeal can only be surmised with the last four words he said Sunday Night.

“I keep it real.”
This article comes to you via @GavelPro

Richmond, VA by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A long time combat sports fan, Felix has spent years covering the regional Virginia amateur and pro MMA scene. He now shifts his focus to writing about national MMA.

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