Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa will collide this weekend (Sat., Feb. 12, 2022) at UFC 271 inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Lewis earned his second UFC title shot last year, ultimately coming up short versus Ciryl Gane in a rough loss. Fortunately, “The Black Beast” reminded the division that he’s still a force to be reckoned with in Dec. 2021, quickly flattening Chris Daukaus to return to the win column.
Meanwhile, 2021 was a spectacular year for “Bam Bam.” Continuing his rebound from a difficult stretch that saw him lose three straight, Tuivasa scored three knockout wins to extend his win streak to four, reasserting himself in the Top 10 and setting up another opportunity to join the title hunt.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man: In general, swanging-and-banging is the standard Lewis gameplan, and there is little to no variation. Sometimes, he’ll charge forward and swing, while in other fights, he hangs back and then swings on the counter. Really, that’s it….
Opposite Tuivasa, I like the former more than the latter. Tuivasa is pretty accustomed to foes backing off from exchanges with him, but Lewis has the type of punching power to more than hold his own in the pocket.
With the big men, it’s often the fighter moving forward who lands first, and in this match up, that may be all it takes. Otherwise, a takedown attempt or two isn’t a terrible idea.
Lewis is deadly from top position, and he’s willing to wrestle if he can catch a low kick or jam his foe into the fence. Many of Tuivasa’s struggles stem from his wrestling defense, so checking that historic weakness might pay off even if Lewis isn’t a known takedown artist.
After the Gane loss, Lewis is trying to work his way back into the title mix. Fortunately, he still has that victory over Francis Ngannou on his resume, and “The Predator” has yet to get that one back.
If Lewis turns back another hot up-and-comer, he’s deserving of a fellow highly ranked opponent next, which would put him right back in the mix. This is a significant opportunity for Tuivasa. The last time he earned a big step up in competition, Junior dos Santos spanked him and sent him on a losing streak.
It’s been just over three years, and the 28-year-old striker is now ready to give it another go. A win immediately sets Tuivasa up for a title eliminator or similarly huge fight, while defeat stalls his current momentum.
— MMA mania (@mmamania) February 13, 2022
— All Things Battles ~ #MidnightMadness (@AllThingsBatRap) February 13, 2022