Pre-fight Analysis

Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa- UFC 271 Preview

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Aside from the long-awaited sequel bout between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker, this weekend’s PPV card in Houston features a banger of a co-main event. The fight between heavyweights Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis and Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa is sure to be a highlight of the night.

Lewis vs. Tuivasa — About damn time

This matchup feels like it’s a long time coming. Both Lewis and Tuivasa have helped bring so much excitement to the UFC Heavyweight division, so this fight is sure to be a nail-biter.

The 11th ranked Heavyweight will have a challenge on his hands in 3rd ranked Lewis, and vice versa. This matchup has the potential to lead straight to either climbing up the ranks or impressive enough that the winner could be the next championship contender.

Lewis and Tuivasa are known for their incredible punching power, with the two of them owing 81% and 93% of their wins to T/KOs, respectively. Both fighters are well-loved by fight fans, but unfortunately, one of these men will have to face a loss (or earn their first draw). This bout will end in two ways: either through a 3-round brawl of a battle between the two or a hard-hitting knockout.

Another shoey for Shoeyvasa?

The Australian had also fought on the same card as the first meetup between Adesanya and Whittaker – UFC 243 back in 2019. Back then, “Bam Bam” lost to Sergey Spivak thanks to an arm-triangle choke in the second round. But since then, Tuivasa has been on a rampage, coming into UFC 271 on a four-win streak.

While not known for a great gas tank, for “Bam Bam”, his key to victory is quite simply to put “The Black Beast” down as early as possible. Tuivasa had two fights in his UFC career that went the distance – one against Andrei Arlovski in 2018 and the other against Blagoy Ivanov more recently in 2019. Only one fight, against Arlovski, had gone unanimously in his favor while the other went the other way.

While realistically, the Australian has a long way to go before a chance at challenging the reigning champ Francis N’Gannou, he’s already taking a massive leap through the rankings in this fight against Lewis. It might not be that far-fetched to believe that a win against “The Black Beast” could give him a direct path to championship contendership – though, of course, there’s still the matter of 2nd ranked Stipe Miocic and recently beaten Ciryl Gane.

Lewis, the Executioner

After a failed attempt at claiming the interim belt against Gane, Lewis bounced back four months later with a brutal first-round knockout against 7th ranked Chris Daukaus. Unlike Tuivasa, however, Lewis has shown that he has the finesse to go the distance – even earning a unanimous decision win against the current champ N’Gannou back in 2018.

The Texan local has a decent reach advantage over his opponent – four inches through both his arms and legs – something he didn’t have against Gane, but he did against Daukaus. If Lewis could utilize his reach advantage against Tuivasa on Saturday, it could be what brings him back on a winning streak.

Usually, a win against a lower-ranked fighter isn’t something to shout about. A winning streak may give Lewis a better chance of a sequel fight against N’Gannou. Although more likely than not, this will provide “The Black Beast” drive to battle against Miocic, who hasn’t fought since losing his belt to N’Gannou in early 2021.

Will Lewis be able to finally score another hometown victory, or will the Australian deny him that chance? There’s only one way to find out.

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Jasmin is a writer-photographer who has worked in video games, music, travel, and more recently, MMA. Her fight background is in TKD, Muay Thai and Boxing though she's always wanted to roll with the BJJ crew. Follow her on Twitter @blaise_MMA

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