The Co-main event for UFC 271 has all the makings for KO of the night, the fight of the night, and future title implications. Not since Derrick fought Francis Nganou (unfortunate result) have we seen the type of hype in terms of a stand-up war. Derrick is coming off an impressive 1st round baptism of Chris Daukaus in late December and continues to hold a win over champ Francis, his opponent Tai Tuivasa is on a 4 fight win streak (ALL STOPPAGES) and is looking like a future contender with every fight/shoey.
Striking: Derrick is the ALL-TIME KO leader in UFC history. Tai has 12 of 13 wins by-strike stoppages. Like I said earlier this fight has stand-up war written all over it so knock on wood, say a little prayer and hope that this fight is what Lewis vs Nganou was supposed to be. Technically speaking Derrick is a much crisper boxer who utilizes heavy leg kicks when needed he is coached by one of the best in the game in Bob Perez and we could see him switch to more of a muay Thai style. Tuivasa has TNT in each hand and is a wild man which makes him a fan favorite, sometimes his recklessness works against him when facing a composed striker.
Cardio/Endurance: Both men are massive fighters who typically have to cut down to the 265-pound limit, while the majority of their fights tend to end by KO in the first or second round. While Derrick has experienced 5 rounds before it remains that this is an area of concern for both fighters. As far as endurance both fighters have shown that they are not only built like tanks but can take the beating of one. Watch for Derrick to do one of his infamous fake being hurt before unloading a bomb on his unsuspecting victim.
Grappling: Tai has never attempted a takedown in his ENTIRE time with the UFC and why should he when can knock your block off and cash in on his bonus money. As for Lewis, he is in a similar boat, while he has attempted multiple takedowns throughout his time with the company he relies mostly on his striking and power but that’s not to say he won’t slam you on your head if he has the opportunity. Both fighters will without a doubt rely on their grappling as a last resort or mainly for defense.
Prediction: Lewis by 1st round KO.