UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Dos Santos Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Wichita, Kan.
Updated: March 6, 2019 • 2:10 PM ET
Junior Dos Santos is looking for his third straight win.
A heavyweight fight between former title challenger Derrick Lewis and former champion Junior dos Santos will headline UFC Fight Night 146 this Saturday at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan.
Lewis, the UFC’s No. 3 ranked heavyweight, unsuccessfully challenged champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 230 in his last fight, losing by second-round submission in November. Prior to the title fight, Lewis had won three straight bouts, including a highlight reel, come-from-behind victory over Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 just a month earlier.
A win on Saturday would put Lewis back on track toward a title shot, and he’s confident that will happen against the No. 8 ranked Dos Santos.
“He’s probably like the weakest guy that I’m gonna fight out of the guys that I’ve fought before,” Lewis recently told Helen Yee Sports. “He’s probably like the fifth or the sixth guy. I don’t think he’s the toughest guy I’ve ever fought, so we’ll see on March 9th.”
When asked about Dos Santos’ skills, Lewis said, “It’s like I say all the time, it’s the heavyweight division. It doesn’t matter if the guy’s a black belt or is a world-class boxer, we still have a 50-50 chance. We’re heavyweights, so it’s really just gonna take one punch.”
Lewis (21-6) fought four times in 2018, so he’ll enter Saturday’s fight with some much-needed rest. He has key victories over Volkov, Francis Ngannou, Marcin Tybura, Travis Browne, Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. A win over a former champion and fighter who has fought the very best in the heavyweight division would perhaps be Lewis’ biggest victory to date.
“Really, whatever round I want,” Lewis said when asked what round he hopes to end Saturday’s fight. “If I want to end the fight in the first, I’ll end the fight in the first. If I want to end the fight in the fifth, I’ll end the fight then. So it’s just whenever I get ready to.”
The future didn’t look great for Dos Santos after Stipe Miocic finished him in the first round of his title fight at UFC 211 in May 2017. It was the third time he had been finished in five fights and the question for the 35-year-old was, where does he go now?
Well, the Brazilian rebounded with two straight wins, a unanimous decision victory over Blagoy Ivanov and a spectacular second-round TKO of rising star Tai Tuivasa in December. Dos Santos is ready to work his way back to yet another title shot with a win on Saturday.
“I’m already qualified to fight for the belt,” Dos Santos said via Combate. “I just need to beat whoever is ahead of me in the rankings. With one or two more wins, I think I should be fighting for the title again.
“I want to face the best, the best of the best. I think this could be a great opportunity. Lewis is well ranked and a win over him puts me in a good spot.”
Dos Santos (20-5) has key victories over Miocic, Ben Rothwell, Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Mirko Cro Cop, Stefan Struve and Fabricio Werdum.
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Saturday’s co-main event will be a welterweight fight between No. 14 Elizeu dos Santos and Curtis Millender.
Dos Santos has won six straight fights, most recently defeating Luigi Vendramini with a spectacular flying knee that knocked him out in the second round. The 32-year-old Dos Santos is 6-1 in the UFC, his only loss coming by split-decision to Nicolas Dalby in 2015.
Millender is 3-0 in the UFC with his last victory coming by unanimous decision over Siyar Bahadurzada at UFC 232 in December. He powerfully entered the UFC with one of the best knockouts of 2018 via a knee against veteran Thiago Alves.
The rest of the main card (ESPN+)
Welterweight bout - Tim Means vs. Niko Price
Heavyweight bout - No. 15 Blagoy Ivanov vs. Ben Rothwell
Lightweight bout - Beneil Dariush vs. Drew Dober
Middleweight bout - Tim Boetsch vs. Omari Akhmedov
Welterweight bout - Anthony Martin vs. Sérgio Moraes
Women's bantamweight bout - No. 6 Marion Reneau vs. No. 9 Yana Kunitskaya
Featherweight bout - Grant Dawson vs. Julian Erosa
Heavyweight bout - Maurice Greene vs. Jeff Hughes
Bantamweight bout - Louis Smolka vs. Matt Schnell
Welterweight bout - Alex Morono vs. Zak Ottow
Lightweight bout - Alex White vs. Dan Moret