The UFC returns to Madison Square Garden on November 3 and up until October 9, there was no main event announced. Well, that has changed in a big way as news broke that Daniel “DC” Cormier would be making his first heavyweight title defense against Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis. The champion, Cormier, is a -700 favorite with the challenger, Lewis, coming back at +450.
Derrick Lewis has been the underdog in his last two fights and has been plus-money in four of his 15 UFC fights overall, but has never lost as an underdog. The Black Beast has a 12-3 record inside the UFC, winning 10 of the fights by T/KO. Most recently, the Louisiana native closed as a +140 underdog against Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 and won with a late third-round knockout with his devastating knockout power that has earned him this title shot.
Before betting on Lewis, though, know that Daniel Cormier is undefeated as a heavyweight fighter, and his only loss ever came against Jon Jones at light heavyweight. DC closed as an underdog in his last fight when he won the heavyweight title by knocking out Stipe Miocic in the first round. In the 265-pound division, Cormier possesses much better punching power than he had at 205 pounds and can balance that with his Olympic-level wrestling.
Breaking down Lewis vs Cormier
Cormier (-700) is among the pound-for-pound best fighters in the UFC. Originally, he was strictly a guy who relied on his strength and above-average wrestling to smother his opponents. Although he has 10 T/KO victories to his name, the majority of those wins came with a relentless ground and pound as his opponents did their best to avoid a submission. DC is small for the heavyweight division, standing five-foot-11 with just a 72-inch reach, but he’s extremely strong, which was evident in his fight vs Josh Barnett when DC lifted him over his head and slammed the true 265-pound fighter.
The Louisiana native has worked very hard on improving his standup and can definitely hold his own in that area now. Cormier stood toe to toe with Jon Jones in their last fight at UFC 214 before Jones landed a well-placed head kick to finish the current heavyweight champ. The 39-year-old really showed off his improved striking when he knocked out Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight belt at UFC 226. Cormier lands 42 percent of his takedown attempts and averages 1.85 takedowns per 15 minutes.
Lewis (+450) is the definition of a brawler with the heart of a warrior. The Black Beast has scary one-punch knockout power that can seemingly come out of nowhere to secure a victory. This was on full display this past weekend when he overcame the largest strike differential in UFC history as he was outstruck 133-40 by Alexander Volkov, but landed an overhand right with 30 seconds remaining in the third round that led to a knockout victory.
The 33-year-old has six professional T/KO victories that have come in the third round or later, so even though it appears The Black Beast is fading with his cardio, he still has the ability to dig deep and finish the fight. Lewis was booed in his previous performance at UFC 226 against Francis Ngannou after the two landed just 31 total strikes over the three-round bout that went to the scorecards.
This is a very intriguing bout as Cormier is the better all-around fighter who has exceptional cardio and can go five rounds no problem. However, Lewis can end the fight with one single punch that could come at any time. Additionally, The Black Beast will outweigh DC by 40 or more pounds come fight night and will have a seven-inch reach advantage. I expect DC to dominate this fight but Lewis could win the war.
For a breakdown and pick for the main card, including this fight, check out the official UFC 230 article.