June 9, 2017

UFC Fight Night 110: Derrick Lewis Should Get Next Title Shot With Win Over Mark Hunt

By Adam Martin

UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic needs fresh contenders for his belt, and Derrick Lewis has a prime opportunity to earn a title shot with an impressive victory over Mark Hunt this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland, New Zealand. Miocic has already defeated most fighters in the top 10 of the UFC heavyweight division. He just knocked out Junior dos Santos, and prior to that he knocked out Andrei Arlovski, Fabricio Werdum, and Alistair Overeem, as well as Hunt. Sure, he could always rematch any of those guys, but fans want fresh fights for Miocic.

Cain Velasquez is the obvious next guy in line, but at this point there's no timetable for his return, and he can't be counted on by the UFC to headline a pay-per-view at this point. Francis Ngannou is another guy who is asking for a title shot, but he's still green, and probably needs to fight a top-five guy before he gets the title shot.

Enter Lewis.

The 32-year-old American is 9-2 overall in the UFC with eight knockout wins. He's won six straight fights -- five by T/KO in that stretch -- and his most-recent knockout win over Travis Browne was his most impressive and high-profile win to date. Yes, he has lost to Shawn Jordan and Matt Mitrione in the past, but at heavyweight, knockouts can happen at anytime, and even Miocic has a weird TKO loss to Stefan Struve on his resume. Aside from those defeats, Lewis has been extremely impressive inside the Octagon, and a win over Hunt -- especially a knockout -- would put him in prime position to call out Miocic for a title fight.

Realistically, what Lewis is doing with his fists is what should get him a title shot, but let's be real, in the WME-IMG Era it's important to move the needle. Obviously, Lewis hasn't headlined a PPV and hasn't proven to be a draw yet, but the guy is absolutely incredible on social media and fans love him. The fact that he's headlined three Fight Night cards in a row shows the promotion is interested in seeing whether he could become a needle mover. He's a guy who the fans can get behind because he's so real, and with the right push I'm convinced the UFC could help make him a bigger star, especially if he wins the title. Between what Lewis is doing right now inside the cage and on social media, and especially in a division that needs new contenders, "The Black Beast" has put himself in a tremendous position to get the chance to win gold.

With Hunt on the way out and with Roy Nelson recently signing with Bellator, the door is open for Lewis to emerge as the new "People's Champion" of the heavyweight division. He's already beaten Browne, and if he can beat Hunt this weekend as well, that would put Lewis in an enviable position in the UFC heavyweight division. It's obvious the promotion likes him -- Lewis recently said he inked a contract extension -- so hopefully the UFC can give him a promotional push and really make him a star. The guy is an amazing fighter to watch and has an incredible personality, and with a big win over Hunt this weekend, he could soon be fighting Miocic for the belt. In a division that's been kind of stale the last few years with the same bunch of fighters competing for the title, things are finally looking up at heavyweight, and Miocic vs. Lewis is certainly a fight to look forward to.

UFC Fight Night 110: Lewis vs. Hunt takes place June 10, 2017 at Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

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