On the main card of UFC 291 this weekend, we will see the return of The Black Beast. Derrick Lewis (26-11) will make the walk during the prelims as he takes on surging heavyweight contender Marcos Rogerio de Lima (21-8-1).
A prelim fight is a drastic change of scenery for Lewis who has been exclusively featured in main events and on the main card of huge cards. However, after a three-fight losing streak, the heavyweight knockout king has to take a step back from his familiar position.
The last time we saw Lewis was in February when he was ran over by Sergei Spivak. Prior to that, he suffered back-to-back knockout losses against Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich. It’s been since December of 2021 since Lewis saw his hand raised so you know he’s looking for a win badly at UFC 291.
Standing in his way is Marcos Rogerio de Lima. De Lima has won two fights in a row leading up to Saturday night that has him in the rankings at 15th. Overall, the former light heavyweight contender is 4-1 in his last five with the lone loss coming to Blagoy Ivanov. A win over Derrick Lewis would easily be the biggest win of his career.
UFC 291 Prediction
What we’ve learned about Derrick Lewis during this losing streak in the UFC is the fact that he doesn’t do well when he’s the fighter getting pressured. Lewis likes to be the predator and the aggressor. When you get him going backwards, he’s far less comfortable in the fight.
For de Lima, he has to be aggressive early and throw a lot of leg kicks. He cannot let Derrick Lewis get settled and find his range. Lewis has ungodly power and he can easily put out anyone if his hands connect. De Lima would be wise to keep his hands up and blast leg kicks to take away the base of Lewis.
I see a clear path to victory for de Lima if he can avoid the power and just fight smart. However, my gut tells me that Derrick Lewis gets back in the win column at UFC 291. Maybe I’m picking with my heart as a fan of The Black Beast, but I think he finds that knockout blow in the first round. With less pressure on his shoulders outside the main spotlight, I think Lewis will shine.
Prediction: Derrick Lewis by KO – Round 1