DERRICK LEWIS: THE RELUCTANT STAR RETURNS

“Tops Drop” wasn’t supposed to become an anthem for this entirely new collection of fans the same way Lewis wasn’t supposed to become one of the most active and successful heavyweights of his era, but here we are, more than a decade in, with “The Black Beast” set to make the walk to the Octagon for the 29th time this weekend.

“29?” Lewis asked, genuinely surprised that he’d made that many trips into the UFC cage already. “I didn’t know it was that many fights.”

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At present, he has the second most appearances by any heavyweight, trailing only Andrei Arlovski, the 45-year-old former champion who made his promotional debut in June 2001, nearly 13 years before Lewis stepped into the Octagon for the first time.

“That’s crazy; I never knew that’s how many fights I had,” added the affable headliner, who debuted in April 2014 with a win over Jack May and currently holds the record for the most knockout wins in UFC history.

Lewis has always been a reluctant star; uncomfortable as the center of attention, hesitant to talk about his past, and quick to try and blow off probing questions with his sardonic wit and big smile rather than share personal feelings and expose his softer side.

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