Tuesday, 21 February 2017

UFC Fight Night Halifax: Six things we learned as Derrick Lewis stops Travis Browne

Heavyweight Derrick Lewis earned his sixth victory in a row by coming from behind to stop Travis Browne at Sunday’s UFC Fight Night event in Halifax.

“The Black Beast” clutched his belly in pain from Browne’s body kicks, but the 32-year-old rallied and smashed through Browne’s guard with uppercuts to complete his comeback.

While Johny Hendricks earned his first win at middleweight, let’s take a look at six things we learned from this weekend’s bouts.

Lewis can move up further in the heavyweight division

Indeed, ranked at number eight, Lewis is enjoying the best form of his career and with his finishing instincts, active game on top and steely mentality he can challenge for a spot in the top five. He never gave up against Browne and once he’d recovered from a body assault in round one, he cut off the distance and hammered his rival with uppercuts. Eventually Browne crumbled to the mat and Lewis finished with ground-and-pound. Next up Lewis could face the number six from France, Francis Ngannou.

Lewis performs an entertaining post-fight interview

Of course, the Texan has always been a bit of an oddball, but he took this to a new level with his hilarious post-fight interview. Was he hurt from Browne’s tirade to the body? “No, I’ve just got to do a number two.” Too much information, Derrick. The heavyweight then spoke of all the sex he’s been getting recently, and Brian Stann must have used all of his restraint to stay professional by this point.

Browne needs to trust his instincts

On the other hand, Browne suffered his third defeat on the spin and is falling into a habit of losing fights when he has the upper hand. For instance, he hurt Andrei Arlovski before losing that war in 2015, and it was the same story against Lewis. Browne boasted a 3.5 inch height advantage and used it to connect with a range of kicks to the body and the head. But as soon as he started taking punishment, he covered up and couldn’t fight back. Should he have tried to clinch with Lewis? Should he have kept it at range with his boxing? Browne now has plenty of soul-searching to do.

Hendricks has the cardio to succeed at middleweight

Soon after Hendricks got his unanimous decision over Hector Lombard, the former welterweight king grinned into a camera and yelled: “185 motherf---ers!” Judging by the way he scored knees and punches on the exit and for the most part avoided going to the mat with Lombard, Hendricks’ delight was understandable. Notching a win on his debut at middleweight, Hendricks looked fresh at his new home, and his power and fitness should keep him around the top ten. But does he has the size to compete in the higher division? His 69 inch reach pales in comparison to the champion Michael Bisping’s 75.5 inch reach.

Marshman belongs in the UFC

Also at middleweight, Welshman Jack Marshman suffered a stunning knockout via a second round wheel kick from Brazil’s Thiago Santos. But given the boxing prowess he showed in dropping Santos with a counter right in the opener, he should be able to develop as a fighter in the UFC’s 185lbs scene. Indeed, Marshman was unhappy with the stoppage and don’t be surprised to see him lining up at a UFC event in Europe any time soon.

Tucker boasts nerves of steel

Imagine making your UFC debut in your home country. And on the main card, no less. You’ll hear UFC commentators discussing “Octagon jitters” for UFC debutants, but that wasn’t the case for featherweight Gavin Tucker, who landed kicks at will against Sam Sicilia before winning a unanimous decision. Although Tucker’s opponents had a combined ledger of 37-46 before the bout, the 30-year-old used his footwork and variety to dominate Sicilia. He landed 60 strikes to his opponent’s 10 and even found time to showboat for his home crowd. Nicely done.

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