LAS VEGAS - From the brink of defeat to the doorstep of a heavyweight title shot. "The Black Beast" is risen at UFC 229.
Trailing on the scorecards in the final 30 seconds of Round 3, Derrick Lewis rallied to drop Alexander Volkov with a brutal counter right hand before finishing him shortly after to create pandemonium inside T-Mobile Arena.
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The three-round heavyweight bout featured action throughout, but Lewis (21-5, 1 NC) largely found himself on the business end of it as the 6-foot-7 Volkov, a former Bellator champion from Russia, used a stiff jab and short combinations to routinely hurt Lewis. But despite being visibly winded, the 33-year-old Lewis never gave up his quest for a knockout. Twice he overcame apparent eye pokes and showed tremendous heart and chin to rally back for the dramatic victory.
"I told them boys that I got heart," Lewis said. "Don't keep underestimating me."
The victory was Lewis' ninth in his last 10 bouts dating back to 2015. Save for a fourth-round knockout loss to Mark Hunt in June 2017, Lewis has steadily made a name for himself as a colorful slugger and future threat for the title. The victory over Volkov was not only a statement, it helped him rebounding from a sleep-inducing and disappointing decision win over Francis Ngannou at UFC 226 in July that was widely panned.
Lewis, a native of New Orleans, showcased his quick wit and often bizarre behavior in the post-fight interview when he took off his shorts to expose his underwear. Asked why by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, Lewis responded by saying, "My balls were hot."
From there, Lewis delivered yet another memorable trip to the microphone in the winner's circle.
"Before the fight, Donald Trump called me, told me I gotta knock this Russian motherf---er out because they make him look bad on the news," Lewis said. "Him and [Russian president Vladimir] Putin shit. F--k what they talkin' about. USA in this house.
"Maybe two weeks from now I"ll come on your show and smoke some weed wit ya," Lewis closed with, in reference to Rogan's recent podcast with Elon Musk.
After Volkov (30-7) was rocked and floored by the counter right hand late in the bout, Lewis jumped on top to land a series of short hooks including a vicious left hand that snapped the native of Russia's head back. Referee Herb Dean jumped in to wave the fight off with just 11 seconds remaining.
The loss was Volkov's first since making his UFC debut in 2016 and it snapped a six-fight win streak.