Derrick Lewis is headlining UFC 265 in his adopted hometown of Houston on Saturday. The card is built around the loquacious knockout artist. Lewis is the leader in knockouts among heavyweights in UFC history, and is tied with Vitor Belfort and Matt Brown for the most knockouts across all divisions.
Lewis has accomplished a lot throughout his career, knocking off some of the biggest names in the division and challenging once for the UFC heavyweight title, albeit unsuccessfully, against Daniel Cormier. This bout has the UFC interim heavyweight belt on the line, yet Lewis, the far more established fighter, is facing surprisingly long odds against up-and-coming, undefeated Frenchman Ciryl Gane. Lewis is a +280 underdog against Gane, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Some people do not agree with those numbers. And Lewis is no stranger to being an underdog -- he was a fairly large one against Curtis Blaydes in February at +350, but Lewis won by knockout.
"Derrick is always in it," said Fortis MMA coach Sayif Saud, who has followed Lewis since his days on the Texas regional scene. "He's used to fighting big fights and five-round fights. He's been doing that since his Legacy FC days. He knows that spot well and he can conserve his energy incredibly well. I think it's closer to a pick 'em fight. I think those odds are pretty crazy considering Derrick's track record and he's got a really, really good chin."
Can Lewis pull off yet another upset with his historic power? Or will Gane continue his meteoric rise? ESPN asked several top coaches and fighters, as well as a number of Lewis' former opponents to give their analysis and predictions.
Editor's note: Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Eric Nicksick, Xtreme Couture MMA coach
Derrick is a guy who is dangerous no matter where he's at in the fight. Whether it's the first round or the fifth round, he has that power. He lulls people to sleep at times before putting them to sleep. He has that rope-a-dope mentality. When I coached against him with Roy Nelson, we wanted to get that single-leg takedown into top-side half guard. Derrick does a great job going belly down and getting back up once he's on the ground.