Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 90 in Las Vegas, Nevada as Derrick Lewis takes on Roy Nelson in a top 15 heavyweight clash. Derrick Lewis (Record: 15-4, +115 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C) The New Orleans born heavyweight fighter relocated to Houston, Texas as a teenager. Lewis lived a mixed upbringing where he served three and a half years in prison after violating probation. Afterwards, he began training in martial arts and fighting professionally. Lewis enters his highest profile fight on the back of a three fight winning streak; all three of those wins have come by knockout. First and foremost, Lewis is a solid athlete. For a man his size, he’s got decent movement and balance. On top of that is power in his hands. Lewis is one of the most feared fighters in the division because of the dynamite he packs in his hands. He learned how to box from George Foreman; a legendary boxer who had some of the most powerful hands the sport ever saw. If Lewis is able to land clean, he can easily knock an opponent out with one punch. He was able to do this in his last fight against Gabriel Gonzaga. While Lewis is very good in stand up boxing, where he does his best work is in ground and pound. He’s shown improvements in his offensive wrestling game throughout his MMA career. In top control, he’s absolutely ruthless and very likely to earn a knockout. Where Lewis can struggle is in the defensive wrestling. He can be taken down by opponents and he doesn’t have much of an answer when he’s put on his back. Outside of his victory over Gonzaga, he’s struggled when tasked with a step up in competition having been finished both by Shawn Jordan and Matt Mitrione. Roy Nelson (Record: 21-12, -135 Favorite, Fighter Grade: C) A long time UFC heavyweight. Nelson is perhaps the division’s best gatekeeper with losses only to the division’s elite. Nelson enters this fight with a victory over Jared Rosholt in his last outing. Nelson turned 40 in June; so this could be one of his last fights inside the Octagon. Despite a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Renzo Grazie, the real threat Nelson has for opponents is in the stand up. Of Nelson’s 21 career victories, 14 of them have come by knockout. Nelson has a ridiculously powerful right hand. It’s that loopy right hand that has put away opponents such as Matt Mitrione and Antonio Minotauro Nogueira. Nelson is a very scary fighter particularly in the first round when he is fresh. As the fight wears on his conditioning lessens significantly and struggles to find the volume and movement to be a threat with the knockout. His defensive wrestling is decent as he showed in his last fight against Jared Rosholt not being taken down once in that fight. Nelson is capable of winning a decision only in a fight against slow prodding opponent otherwise he will lose on the scorecards due to lack of volume. Match-up A match-up that Derrick Lewis has been clamoring for since nearly his arrival in the UFC is finally coming to fruition at Fight Night 90. Serving as the night’s co-main event is a heavyweight bout that should be one of those don’t blink type of fights. Both Lewis and Nelson are fighters that look for devastating knockouts on the feet. Nelson is the more dangerous in the opening moments in this fight as his right handed knockout punch is more decisive than Lewis’ boxing on the feet. If Lewis is to win this fight, I think he will need to take Nelson to the ground and work in ground and pound. The problem for Lewis is Nelson is crafty enough with defending takedowns to keep the fight on the feet where he is most dangerous. Lewis has had some chin issues in the past having been knocked out twice in his UFC stint. Assuming Nelson makes contact with his right hand, I don’t see Lewis being able to survive. This fight is a good opportunity for Nelson to earn a first round knockout win over an opponent who will be looking to engage in a slugfest. Nelson by knockout at (+130) is the most likely scenario in this fight and one worth a bet. If this fight goes outside of the first round, Lewis’ chances of winning increase. If live odds are available after the first round, a live bet on Lewis may be warranted.
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