It’s been a minute since the UFC had to shake up the main event of one of their upcoming fight cards. After starting 2023 with what felt like a constant series of headline fight shifts, the promotion has headed into fall without having to really scramble since early August when Umar Nurmagomedov was replaced by Rob Font to take on Corey Sandhagen (not counting UFC 293, since Dricus Du Plessis almost immediatley turned down the booking offer once it was made).
Unfortunately, into every run of UFC events, a little rain must fall. This time around, it’s hitting the headliner for the UFC’s return to Brazil on November 4th. There Jailton Almeida had been expected to meet Curtis Blaydes in a battle of potential heavyweight title contenders.
Curtis Blaydes out, Derrick Lewis in against Almeida
Brazilian MMA website Ag. Fight first reported the news that Curtis Blaydes had suffered an injury in training and would be replaced by former heavyweight title contender Derrick Lewis.
Riding a three fight losing streak heading into UFC 291 this past July, Lewis turned his luck around in a big way against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, defeating the American Top Team talent via flying knee and punches just a few seconds into the opening round. With that bout marking the last fight on his contract, there was a lot of speculation going in that Lewis might be set for a UFC exit, even if he managed to get the win. The ‘Black Beast’ quickly made it apparent, however, that that wasn’t going to be the case.
“I believe I do,” Lewis told fans after his most recent win, when asked if he felt he had another title run left in him. “It was just so crazy and frustrating, me losing to the guys that I lost to. There’s no way in hell I should have lost to those guys. So that was another reason why I wanted to train my ass off for this fight. Because now I’ve got a lot of guys calling me out now.”
To get to that goal of capturing UFC gold, Lewis will first have to go through 32-year-old jiu jitsu ace Jailton Almeida. The LG System standout has made a big splash in the Octagon after debuiting back in 2022 with a TKO win over Danilo Marques at light heavyweight. Despite weighing in under the LHW limit in both that fight and his previous bout on the Contender Series, Almeida soon made the jump to heavyweight, where he’s looked every bit as unstoppable as he did at 205.
Almeida is currently riding a 14-fight winning streak, fresh off a first round rear naked choked victory over Jairzinho Rozenstruik. A win over Lewis in November very well might have the Brazilian knocking on the door of a championship fight.
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Derrick Lewis’ new 8-fight UFC contract
Far from playing the field with free agency, Lewis appeared to sprint back to the UFC front offices after his most recent win. Just a few days after Lewis revealed that he was suddenly a free agent, Dana White revealed that Lewis was a free agent no longer.
“Listen, I love Derrick. Personally and professionally love the guy,” White explained when asked about Lewis’ relationship with the UFC. “So, yes,” he added, when pressed if Lewis’ new contract with the UFC had been finalized.
That deal includes a reported 8-fights for the now 38 year old. Considering that the UFC tends to offer fighters three bouts a year (and that most fighters conly end up competing twice a year despite that), Lewis new deal should carry him well into his early 40s. Even at heavyweight it seems unlikely that fans will see Lewis competing outside of the Octagon at any point near his athletic prime, if ever.
UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs. Lewis takes place at the Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Alongside the heavyweight main event, the card is expected to feature a middleweight fight between Rodolfo Vieira & Armen Petrosyan, as well as a women’s strawweight bout between Angela Hill & Denise Gomes. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates as the card approaches.
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