(This post first appeared on MMAFrenzy.)
Derrick Lewis hasn’t been shy about letting folks know that he’s not all that impressed with Francis Ngannou. But “The Predator” is firing back some verbal shots of his own, as the two get set to battle.
The powerful heavyweights will throw hands at UFC 226, which will go down on Saturday, July 7th. During Ngannou’s meteoric rise up the heavyweight ranks, Lewis questioned whether the hype surrounding the rising fighter was warranted. Lewis believes that Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski have no chins, and cited that, while scrutinizing Ngannou’s wins over the veterans. Lewis also took some jabs at Ngannou via social media, after the latter lost to the champ, Stipe Miocic in January.
Well, recently Ngannou spoke with Helen Yee, and while discussing how he matches up with Lewis, the 31 year-old said this:
“What advantages do you think I have over Derrick Lewis? All of them,” Ngannou said. “Of what you can imagine, I think I have all that over him. He said I knocked [Andrei] Arlovski out because he’s old — he was 37. Mark Hunt was 43 when he beat [Derrick Lewis]. Hunt made him quit. I think [Lewis] just doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
Now, there’s a couple of things to look at here. While there’s no question that Ngannou hits ridiculously hard, it’s hard to deny that Overeem isn’t as durable as he once was. Arlovski, however, has taken some big shots in some of his most recent bouts, and has kept coming. After all, he just went the distance with Tai Tuivasa, and before that, defeated Stefan Struve and Junior Albini.
In terms of advantages, and whether Ngannou has Lewis beat in all areas, that’s an interesting question. Is Ngannou the better striker? Chances are a lot of folks would say yes, due to Ngannou’s explosiveness. Is he the better wrestler and grappler? Hard to say. Miocic’s wrestling and top game ruled the day against Ngannou, so might Lewis look to take the bout down? It wouldn’t be surprising.
We’ve also seen Lewis battle through some very tough spots, late in fights, and score victories. So, it’s going to be really interesting to see how things play out, if this fight makes it out of the first round. Prior to facing Miocic, Ngannou had never competed outside of the second frame.
UFC 226 will be hosted by the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.