UFC Vegas 19: 3 keys to victory for Derrick Lewis

What are some of the best ways for Derick Lewis to find success at UFC Vegas 19?

UFC Vegas 19 is the night of the heavyweights. The majority of the main card features heavyweight bouts and is headlined with the matchup between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. This fight may not have title implications, but it certainly puts the winner in a prime position to jockey to be next after Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou compete for the second time.

Physically, Lewis has been looking better than ever, he enters this fight looking to make it four wins in a row. It was inevitable that Lewis and Blaydes’ paths would cross at some point, now that the day is upon us, we will examine the three paths of victory for Lewis.

Start each round aggressively

It’s no secret what Blaydes will want to do, while he is a good striker himself, his best bet is putting Lewis on the ground by way of the double-leg takedown. For Lewis, it is risky to push forward aggressively out of the gate, but the risk is worth the reward. Lewis hits impossibly hard, especially when he is fresh. But as he showed us in his most recent TKO win over Aleksei Olienk, there isn’t much wrestling or grappling anyone is going to do when they are forced to move backward. Coming full steam ahead from the beginning of the fight will give him a great chance of landing the kill shot, or at the very least, a strike that will put Blaydes in trouble making the follow-up fight-ending strikes nothing more than a formality.

Stay in the center of the Octagon

Blaydes has fantastic entries from all positions, but he especially likes to use the fence to get the takedown. He has his best success when he gets the double leg, forcing his opponents back against the cage, and dumping them on their back. While it bodes well for Lewis to press forward, he ought to make sure he stays in the center of the Octagon. By staying in the center it’ll give him room to either go backward or side to side while fishing for the underhooks to avoid being taken down with the help of the cage. While Lewis isn’t exactly known for his grappling prowess, he has shown vast improvement as of late. He moves very well for such a big man in scrambles and when in the top position, staying in the center will give him the best chance of avoiding having to fight off of his back.

3. Attack from top position

While it would be best to avoid the ground game of Blaydes, it’s far easier said than done. Lucky for Lewis, the sheer strength he has gives him the ability to power out of a lot of bad positions and end up in the top position. An underrated skill he has is the ability to land punches and score massive damage from the top position when in awkward positions. In between scrambles, he will have opportunities to land significant, fight-ending strikes. In between transitions of being taken down, or trying to get up, he should be diligent about looking for openings and throwing hammers from all positions. For Lewis, it just takes one of those shots to land properly for it to be the beginning of the end.

UFC Vegas 19 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.