Lewis (25-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) tied the UFC’s all-time knockout record Saturday when he delivered a “KO of the Year” contender on Blaydes (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the second round of their heavyweight headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
After connecting with a clean shot, Lewis dove on top of a stiff and already unconscious Blaydes and landed a pair of haymakers before referee Herb Dean could step in. It was well within the rules, but were they “super necessary,” as Jorge Masvidal would say?
“I can’t just turn the switch off just like that,” Lewis told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight. “Some fighters can do that, but I can’t do it. I have to wait until the referee pulled me off because you never know what could happen. Anything could happen. He could’ve turned into (The) Undertaker and stood straight up and eat all those shots. You never know. You go until the referee says, ‘Chill out.’”
Blaydes ultimately got up after the stoppage and left the octagon under his own power. Lewis said he was happy for that, but he wasn’t surprised to see the fight end with his opponent staring up at the lights.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing up to that point, though. Blaydes was having major success with his striking in the first round and in the early stages of the second, too.
Lewis said he never panicked, and he actually felt the momentum was trending in his favor as the minutes wore on.
“At the end of the first round I’m like, ‘He’s messing up, he’s messing up,’” Lewis said. “That’s what I was saying in my head. His coach was trying to pump his head up, ‘Good, good. You’re doing good.’ I’m like, ‘All right, keep playing that game.’ That’s what I was saying to myself. The second round came, and I knew he was going to try to come out and stand up a little bit, and then he was trying to shoot. So I just had to be patient.”
The finishing blow was about as flawlessly timed of an uppercut that’s ever occurred inside the octagon. Blaydes telegraphed a takedown attempt, and Lewis blasted him clean with his right fist to match Vitor Belfort’s all-time record for most UFC knockouts with his 12th.
Lewis said he believed that if he won, it would be in that fashion, adding that the uppercut was a focal point of his training camp going into his original date with Blaydes in November, and then continuing into UFC Fight Night 185.
“All I was waiting on was just for him to shoot,” Lewis said. “Was just waiting for him to shoot and nothing else. We knew it was coming. … (My coaches and I), that’s what we’ve been drilling all month. Twelve weeks, really. Trying to get prepared for that guy.”