Derrick Lewis felt ‘a lot of pressure’ at UFC 291, hopes to re-sign with promotion

Derrick Lewis is back in the win column and if things go as planned, he’ll be back in the UFC octagon soon too.

“The Black Beast” delivered in a must-win performance Saturday, needing just 33 seconds to finish Marcos Rogerio de Lima on the main card of UFC 291 in Salt Lake City. Lewis opened the contest with a spectacular flying knee that de Lima never recovered from, leaving Lewis to put him away with ground-and-pound.

The victory snapped a career-worst three-fight skid for Lewis and sends him into free agency on a high note as he revealed afterward that UFC 291 marked the final fight on his current contract.

At the evening’s post-fight press conference, Lewis admitted that he was feeling the heat heading into Saturday.

“The win means a lot to me,” Lewis said. “I had a lot of pressure that was on me coming into this fight. I just wanted to prove to everyone that I’m still one of the best fighters in the world.”

Lewis has been a mainstay of the UFC heavyweight division since 2014 and has twice challenged for titles. His most recent attempt to claim an interim championship ended in a TKO loss to Ciryl Gane at UFC 265, which sent him on a 1-4 spiral. His next three losses also saw Lewis finished, twice in the opening round.

The 38-year-old rededicated himself to training for his matchup with de Lima, which was evident in the set of six-pack abs that he showed off at Friday’s weigh-ins.

“Pressure I put on myself,” Lewis said when asked to clarify where he felt the pressure was coming from. “I finally did everything right, I trained my ass off for 11 weeks straight. I didn’t drink any sodas, that’s probably one of the keys to me getting a little six-pack. That’s what I did.”

Lewis isn’t counting himself out of the title race just yet, nor is he assuming that a future championship chase will take place outside of the UFC. He told reporters he would like to re-sign with the promotion while also jokingly giving them a piece of his mind.

“I’m hoping to stay here in the UFC,” Lewis said. “I like it here. I like the staff… everybody’s cool here except for the media. You know y’all are dickheads. F*** all y’all, really. I should walk out right now on y’all. But go ahead, next question.”