LAS VEGAS – Derrick Lewis was pleased with his UFC on ESPN+ 32 performance – but he knows there’s still work to do.
Fan favorite Lewis (24-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) defeated Aleskei Oleinik via second-round TKO on Saturday. During the fight, Lewis landed in vulnerable positions. However, he persevered through the cagey Oleinik’s deepest submission attempts.
“I feel good,” Lewis told MMA Junkie at a post-fight news conference. “He fought just like we thought he was going to fight. The submission defense by him holding my neck like that is what we practiced all week – really the last two weeks, the elbow tuck and turn into him. We (saw) him do that bulldog choke. You don’t want to get tapped on your neck like that, so I couldn’t tap.”
If Lewis could change one thing, it’d be the absence of an audience. Lewis said he thought the lack of fans made it more obvious that Oleinik’s choke’s were affecting him.
“I was wishing there were crowds in the stands because I was snorting, making a funny noise while he was choking the hell out of my neck,” Lewis said. “I was like, ‘damn, I’m making too much noise. I wonder if they can hear it on TV.’ So I can’t tap like that. I know my kids watching. They would tease me forever.”
Despite Oleinik’s attempts at a submission, Lewis defended. Fending off the attempts of an outstanding grappler, Lewis said he proved something to the national audience.
“I knew I had it,” Lewis said. “I’m one of the baddest bluebelts in Texas, not only in the world. I probably am the baddest blue belt in the world. Right Joe? I ain’t even got to strike tonight, so we’ll see. Keep up underestimating.”
When MMA Junkie asked what’s next for Blaydes, he gave three options – none of which were a fight for the championship currently held by Stipe Miocic. Before he faces any of his self-proposed opponents, however, Lewis wants to lose weight.
“Curtis Blaydes makes sense,” Lewis said. “(Francis) Ngnannou makes sense. (Alistair) Overeem makes sense. That’s about it. We’ll see what happens next week and see who makes sense after that match. I for sure have to get down 15-20 pounds to feel comfortable in there. Yep, then you’ll really see something scary out of me, for sure.”
UFC on ESPN+32 took place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streamed on ESPN+.
Check out Derrick Lewis’ full post-fight news conference in the video above.