UFC Sao Paulo Clash: Lewis Vs. Almeida!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis and Jailton Almeida will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Nov. 4, 2023) at UFC 294 inside Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Lewis keeps on keeping on. “The Black Beast” is likely never going to fight for the title again — it’s Heavyweight though, so we cannot rule it out completely — but he continues to fight well enough to pummel anyone outside the Top 10 at a minimum. He certainly hits hard enough to still threaten those in the elite ranks, and Lewis should help test at least a couple aspects of Almeida’s game. Credit to the Brazilian, he’s been dominant, winning without getting touched and via stoppage. However, he’s done so while displaying very little of his overall MMA game, so it’s a question of whether there’s more depth than we’ve seen or if he’s going to flail when forced out of his comfort zone.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

UFC Fight Night: Almeida v Lewis Official Weigh-in

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Derrick Lewis

Record: 27-11-1

Key Wins: Francis Ngannou (UFC 226), Curtis Blaydes (UFC Vegas 19), Alexander Volkov (UFC 229), Aleksei Oleinik (UFC Vegas 6), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC 244), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 126), Chris Daukaus (UFC Vegas 45)

Key Losses: Ciryl Gane (UFC 265), Tai Tuivasa (UFC 271), Sergei Pavlovich (UFC 277), Daniel Cormier (UFC 230), Serghei Spivac (UFC Vegas 68)

Keys to Victory: Lewis is the UFC’s knockout king because he throws absurdly hard and believes in his ability to find the knockout. Probably half of his stoppage victories involved surviving an early storm and landing big late, and that very likely will be necessary tonight.

That said: Almeida starts every single fight the same way. He throws a front kick then dives for a double leg takedown. He probably shoots too low to the floor for Lewis to decapitate him via uppercut (like he did to Curtis Blaydes), but that doesn’t mean Lewis cannot see the front kick, take a step sideways, then look to punch Almeida in the face as he regains his feet.

Really, Lewis should be looking to push Almeida into new territory. Nobody has defended more than a couple of his takedowns in the Octagon, and Lewis is a big lad! If he can shuck off a few of Almeida’s takedown attempts and maybe “Just Stand Up!” a time or two, then suddenly Almeida might look a little more fatigued and hittable.

Additionally, Lewis is downright nasty from top position. If Almeida takes a bad shot and can be reversed, that could very quickly produce another KO for “The Black Beast.”

MMA: MAY 13 UFC Fight Night - Rozenstruik vs Almeida

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Jailton Almeida

Record: 19-2

Key Wins: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (UFC Charlotte), Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC 283), Parker Porter (UFC Vegas 55), Danilo Marques (UFC Vegas 54)

Key Losses: None

Keys to Victory: Almeida is a jiu-jitsu ace, as well as a really physically strong Heavyweight with good speed. He’s able to routinely bowl over opponents, at which point his masterful top game leaves them very stuck.

If the same strategy keeps working, is there any real need to switch it up? Almeida’s double leg would never fly in a collegiate wrestling room, but it keeps tripping up his opponents. That’s what raw athleticism and upright kickboxing stances can do!

Likely, Almeida does get Lewis down early. At that point, it’s all about control. Lewis is accustomed to being able to shove opponents off him and turn away, but Almeida can counter that strategy. His positioning is good enough to slow Lewis down and make his get up slower, which means his back will be quite exposed as he goes to stand.

Unlike most Heavyweights, Almeida is excellent at throwing in hooks and finishing from back mount.

Bottom Line

It’s a shame Curtis Blaydes suffered an injury, but this is still an interesting fight.

At this point, it doesn’t feel like Lewis is part of the title mix. He’s lost too clearly to too many top Heavyweights. At the same time, if he puts a few wins together and there’s an injury in a title fight, Lewis is a company man who is consistently willing to step in on short-notice. It could happen!

Almeida’s path to gold is more straightforward. If he runs through Lewis like everyone else, it’s clear proof that he’s ready for the best of the division. He called out Ciryl Gane earlier this week, and that’s about as high-ranking an opponent as “Bon Gamin” can find given the current title picture.

At UFC Sao Paulo, Derrick Lewis and Jailton Almeida will throw down in the main event. Which man earns the victory?

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