Derrick Lewis is making a quick turnaround, going from a last-minute win over Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 to stepping into a last-minute title shot at UFC 230.
It's extremely rare that a fighter would compete on back-to-back UFC pay-per-views, but company officials had their backs against the wall without a suitable headliner for its return to Madison Square Garden. The promotion tried to stem the bleeding a bit by lining up Valentina Shevchenko vs. Sijara Eubanks for the vacant women's flyweight title. Fan reaction was less than enthusiastic, so they kept working.
Following Lewis' stunning victory with mere seconds left in the fight with Volkov on Saturday, his popularity with fans, and his No. 2 ranking in the division, the UFC convinced heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier to risk his shot at a blockbuster bout with Brock Lesnar and put his belt on the line opposite Lewis in the UFC 230 main event on Nov. 3 in New York.
Though he holds such a high ranking, even Lewis himself had said after the Volkov fight that he wasn't going to be calling for a title shot because he didn't feel like he was quite ready yet. A couple of days later and he had inked the deal to fight Cormier. He's going into the fight to get the win, obviously, but even Lewis is skeptical about why No. 1 contender and former champion Stipe Miocic didn't get the shot ahead of him.
"I don't know why they don't want to give it to Stipe. It'd been great for them to give it to Stipe than to me, but I appreciate them giving me the shot," Lewis told TMZ Sports.
"I really believe that Stipe really deserves the shot, seeing as how he was the champion for a while, he defended that many times, and I guess dominant for a while. I don't know why they gave it to me before they gave it to Stipe. Everyone else, whenever they lost their belt, they got a shot to win it back. I don't know why they didn't give it to Stipe, unless he wanted some time off."
For his part, Miocic said that he was ready to fight on Nov. 3, but was never offered a rematch with Cormier.
"I was in talks to offer myself up to headline and help save that card, but I was never offered [Cormier]," Miocic told ESPN via text message. "I would fight [Cormier] any time, anywhere. I look forward to getting my belt back."
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