Lewis (26-10 MMA, 17-8 UFC) has suffered back-to-back losses going into this weekend’s heavyweight showdown with Serghei Spivac (15-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC), which takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. And it’s a radical shift from where he started the year.
After bringing a run of five victories in six fights into February’s UFC 271 clash with Tai Tuivasa, Lewis was knocked out. He went on to face Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 277 in July, and was stopped in a controversial 55-second TKO. Now Lewis is facing the possibility of a three-fight losing skid for the first time, and he wants to right the ship.
“I don’t want to think about it because this year has not been my year,” Lewis told MMA Junkie and other reporters at UFC Fight Night 215 media day. “It would be good if I could keep the streak going, but this year haven’t been my year and I want to end the year off with a bang and it would be great to get a win here in Vegas.”
Lewis can’t identify exactly what went wrong against Tuivasa and Pavlovich, he said. In fact, he said he’s never taken a more professional approach to fights.
“I trained as hard as I could,” Lewis said. “This year I probably trained the most I’ve ever trained and for both fights and it didn’t go my way. I did everything the right way and it still didn’t go my way. I don’t know. I still even trained even harder for this fight, so we’ll see how things go Saturday. I believe I can get the job done, even in the later rounds. I’m looking forward to the fourth and the fifth round. I’m looking forward to main event fight this fight.”
“I hope it lasts a few seconds, but if it goes five rounds it’s fine. I’m ready, I’m excited. My coaches got me ready. I’m motivated even though there’s really not too much for me to be motivated for at this point in my career, but I am motivated. I’m ready to get in there. I feel like I’ve still got a lot left in the tank, so we’ll see how it goes Saturday.”
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Lewis’ bout at UFC Fight Night 215 will mark his 26th appearance in the heavyweight division. Only Andrei Arlovski (39) and Frank Mir (26) have fought more, and with title-fight experience, there’s not much Lewis hasn’t seen in the game to this point.
So when comes to the matchup in front of him with Pavlovich, there’s no area of concern that stands out to Lewis. In fact, he said he sees a chance to show off an undersold part of his skillset.
“Whenever I heard that it was him I said, ‘OK that’s fine,'” Lewis said. “It didn’t matter. I don’t care who they give me. I just wanted to fight anyone. It didn’t matter. Especially after my last fight, it didn’t matter who it would’ve been, how quick it would’ve been. I would’ve preferred it would’ve been quicker than this week, but I didn’t care. I think he’s a good opponent. From what I’ve been seeing on the highlights he likes to wrestle a lot, and I like that. Because I like to wrestle too. But I never really showed that in my fights. So we’ll see how it goes Saturday.”
Although Lewis claims he took no emotional trauma from the negative turn in fight results, he’s plenty aware of the position he’s in. Lewis’ status as a fan favorite likely gives him a longer rope than most in terms of staying power on the roster despite losses, but no one wants to drop three straight.
At 37, Lewis admits his time in the sport is limited, too, and if he wants to maximize his remaining window, a win over Spivac is critical.
“My back is real against the wall now,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to lose three straight fights in a row. I don’t really even want to lose one fight. So I take it hard on myself every time I lose a fight. I don’t stop thinking about my last fight until I get a new fight. I’m just tired of thinking about my last fight, it being some BS, the way it ended. I just wanted to come out this week. Give it all I’ve got. I’m almost at the end of my career now. I don’t want there to be any woulda, coulda, shouldas. I want to have everything all set and done.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 215.