A pair of heavyweights who are eager to re-establish themselves in a still-somewhat deep UFC heavyweight division face off on the UFC’s next fight card in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 18.
Derrick Lewis, who is coming off a knockout loss to Mark Hunt, faces Marcin Tybura, who went the distance with former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum in his last fight but came up short in a decision loss. A win by either fighter would go a long way toward putting them in the title conversation as UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic seeks his next challenger for the belt.
Strengths: Lewis’ fights are must-see television. When he steps into the Octagon, a knockout is sure to follow. Lewis put out the lights of guys like Travis Browne, Gabriel Gonzaga and Jared Rosholt in his career, and he’s also finished multiple other fighters. There’s no real mystery to Lewis’ game – he’s looking to knock you cold, and he usually does just that. So like I’ve said, Lewis has devastating power in his hands. Fighters should basically stand and bang with “The Black Beast” at their own peril.
Weaknesses: A guy who has knocked out 15 guys in his last 18 fights is hard-pressed to have any weaknesses, frankly. But like most guys who insist on the stand-up game, if you live by the sword, you still die by the sword. So Lewis has shown he can be knocked out, as what happened in his last fight against Hunt. While he has yet to be submitted in his UFC career, Lewis also hasn’t shown any proclivity for having a ground game. So someone with a skillset like Tybura may find himself with an advantage in a fight like this.
Strengths: As I just finished saying, Tybura is one of the more well-rounded heavyweights in the UFC right now. Of his 16 total pro victories, seven have come by knockout and six have come by submission. Tybura successfully completes more than half of his takedown attempts and has defended more than 80 percent of takedowns attempted against him in his UFC career. So like many heavyweights, he is difficult to take down in more ways than one.
Lewis has been a fairly one-dimensional fighter so far in his UFC career. If Tybura decides to use his ground game to change things up and keep Lewis off guard, he could pick up the biggest win of his career to date. Tybura went a full five rounds with one of the best fighters and most dangerous strikers around in his last fight in Werdum, so Tybura’s toughness is definitely not in question.
Weaknesses: While Lewis is not as skilled as Werdum, he is the fighter with the most punching power that Tybura has likely faced in his career. Tybura has only lost once in his career by knockout, which happened before he joined the UFC. But for a fighter who absorbs more than three significant strikes per minute, can Tybura withstand Lewis’ power for very long?
This is probably pretty close to the classic “striker vs. grappler” matchup that we have all come to know and love in mixed martial arts. Tybura has one of the better ground games among the UFC heavyweights, and is a better striker than most other grapplers, regardless of weight class. Lewis is coming off a severe back injury, which may have at least played a small role in his knockout loss to Hunt. But Tybura will be a particularly stiff challenge for Lewis, given his prowlice on the ground.
It’s entirely possible that Lewis lands his patented one-shot that is needed for a quick and devastating knockout. But I think Tybura will be smart enough to stay outside of Lewis’ power, mix up his strikes and grappling and land enough takedowns and ground-and-pound to win the fight on the scorecards.
Winner: Tybura by unanimous decision
Photo Credit: MMA Weekly