UFC St. Louis Main Event Breakdown

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The city of St. Louis is buzzing this time of year. In the world of gridiron football, the UFL‘s BattleHawks enter week seven of the 10-week regular season having gone 5-1 overall over the first six weekends of play ahead of an anticipated road game Saturday afternoon against the league’s last remaining unbeaten squad, the Birmingham Stallions (6-0.)

If the UFL regular season were to end today, the BattleHawks would clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the XFL conference championship game the weekend of June 8 and 9. Enough about football.

Our focus this time out is what’s going to happen in St. Louis after the football game ends on Saturday. One week removed from UFC 301 on pay-per-view, the UFC returns for the second of three shows in May.

Enterprise Center, usually the home rink of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, plays host to a card from the MMA leader on the eve of Mother’s Day inside the United States. Live coverage of UFC St. Louis begins Saturday afternoon at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on ESPN+ with the undercard, continuing at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT on ESPN proper with the main card.

Heavyweights Take Center Stage in UFC St. Louis Main Event Saturday Night

All told, barring any late cancellations or postponements between now and the weekend, the final version of UFC St. Louis features a full 13-fight card. Heavyweights will top the bill in the UFC St. Louis main event.

No. 12 contender Derrick Lewis (27-12, 1 NC MMA, 18-10 UFC) makes his 41st career appearance in the sport as a professional when he takes on No. 15 contender Rodrigo Nascimento (11-1, 1 NC MMA, 4-1, 1 NC UFC) in the headlining bout. As with all UFC main events, this one is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

UFC St. Louis Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC St. Louis main event on Saturday night, “The Black Beast”, Derrick Lewis, stands as the taller man at 6-foot-3, compared to the 6-foot-2 frame of Rodrigo Nascimento. The latter owns a one-inch reach advantage (80 inches to 79 inches) over the former, who owns a half-inch leg reach advantage (43 1/2 inches to 43 inches even.)

Currently, the oddsmakers have Derrick Lewis installed as a -155 favorite on the money line, while Rodrigo Nascimento counters as a +130 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Lewis Isn’t at The End of the Road Yet

A universal storyline ahead of the UFC St. Louis main event this weekend is the fact that both of these men last fought on the same evening, Nov. 3. Derrick Lewis has posted a record of 1-4 in his last five fights.

Most recently, he dropped a unanimous decision against Jailton Almeida (20-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC). Although “The Black Beast will turn 40 years of age next year, retirement isn’t even on his mind at the moment.

Saturday’s headliner is the second contest on his current eight-fight deal with the UFC, and he recently discussed his longevity with Shakiel Mahjouri of CBS Sports.

“It’s nothing I’m thinking about,” Lewis began. “My coaches and other people say ‘Once you get to 40, everything starts to slow down,’ but this is like the best I’ve felt, the last two fights. This is the best I’ve felt leading up to a fight, the training camp and everything. I feel great.”

Will Derrick Lewis add to his UFC-record 14 knockouts with a stoppage this weekend? Tune into the UFC St. Louis main event and find out.

Rodrigo Nascimento Ready for Biggest Fight of UFC Career Saturday

In the other corner, Rodrigo Nascimento has posted a mark of 3-1 with one no-contest over his last fight. At present, he’s on a four-fight unbeaten streak.

Last time out, he scored a unanimous decision victory against Don’Tale Mayes (11-6, 1 NC MMA, 4-4, 1 NC UFC) in the second head-to-head meeting between them back in November in Brazil. Saturday’s card marks Nascimento’s first headlining appearance since joining the UFC in the fall of 2020.

“I wanted someone in the top 15, and I think Derrick Lewis is a good name; the best name,” Nascimento said in an interview with “I re-signed my contract, too, so 2024 has been really, really good for me. This is a good fight, a tough fight, but it’s a good moment.”

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC St. Louis main event looks to be a toss-up. Both men own purple belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Lewis a Knockout Specialist

As previously mentioned, Derrick Lewis holds the UFC promotional record for most wins by knockout (14,) and he’s scored 22 wins by knockout in his career.  In a heavyweight fight, just one strike can end the story. Travis Browne found this out the hard way in 2018.

During the second round of a scheduled five that evening, Lewis got out of a clinch and landed unrelenting punches on Browne, backing him up against the cage fence in the process. Upon taking Browne to the canvas, Lewis secured mount, and after a throw, he continued throwing vicious shots,

Even after Browne returned to his feet, Lewis just dropped him again and scored with repeated punches to the head until referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in and stopped the match. If Derrick Lewis lands the first big punch of the UFC St. Louis main event, he can take the momentum of the fight as soon as it begins.

Nascimento’s Ground Game Can Tell the Story

In the other corner, Rodrigo Nascimento can pull off the upset if he goes to the ground, like he did in his Contender Series fight vs. Michal Martinek in 2019. During the first round of a scheduled three, Nascimento secured top mount and softened Martinek up with punches to set up a possible submission.

From there, Nascimento was in complete control, applying the torque to lock up a head and arm choke, forcing Martinek to tap out. If Rodrigo Nascimento can put Derrick Lewis on the mat early, he’ll send shockwaves across the UFC heavyweight division.

Final Thoughts

Anytime that the UFC books a heavyweight fight in the main event slot, it can be an amazing five rounds (or less) of action. Although the calendar will read May 11 on Saturday, this one will bring the fireworks like it’s July 4.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis by Second-Round Knockout. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.