“I don’t want to keep putting my family through this [anymore].” That is what Derrick Lewis said moments after he had lost the main event bout at UFC Fight Night 110 against Mark Hunt last Saturday. His run in the heavyweight division was ended by the heavy hands of the “Super Samoan”, and it seems that retirement is upon the out-spoken Lewis.
In the past, the New Orleans-native has not only made friends within the MMA circle. His quirky comments and loudmouth promos angered some people who are certainly not sad that his six-fight winning streak, which was a notable achievement in the heavyweight division, is over and he will not challenge for Stipe Miocic’s title.
Apart from Lewis’ performances on the mic—many of us remember his “where’s Ronda Rousey’s fine ass at” comment after he beat Rousey boyfriend Travis Browne—his performances in the cage were sometimes lackluster and against Hunt far from high-level MMA. Lewis gassed early in the fight, lacked any effective footwork and became an immobile target for Hunt’s power shots.
Whether his back was hurt, as Lewis claimed, or not, he cannot be satisfied with that outing and the fact that a title shot has become more or less unreachable. Before the bout, Lewis negotiated a better contract and, after the bout, he earned a fight night bonus on top. He never seemed to be in the fight game just for the sake of professional athletic competition.
He went through rough times earlier in his life, with the recipe for failure: broken childhood, low-income jobs, several years in prison. But instead of failing, Lewis pulled himself out of his misery, succeeded at the grueling sport of MMA and earned money to provide his family an enjoyable life.
“The Black Beast” might have made some enemies in the game and split the fans into two factions, yet no one can take his achievements away from him. And if his retirement speech was more than just a kneejerk reaction following a disappointing loss, Lewis knows exactly when to get out the door—before the sport takes more out of him health-wise than it puts in his pockets money-wise.
However … Lewis would not be Lewis had he not left the door ajar. After explaining that he does not want to put his family through seeing him grinding in the gym and battling in the cage, he said: “Most likely, this will be my last fight in the UFC.” As we know and have seen many times before, “most likely” can quickly turn a retirement speech into a confident ‘’I’m back”.
And Lewis would not be Lewis had he not immediately set up new feuds for fights which could easily headline UFC Fight Night cards or co-main event PPVs. First, his nemesis Travis Browne,the one who is probably still insulted by the comment about his girlfriend, called him out and insisted he would be down for a rematch. Later, Francis Ngannou, the French powerhouse who many expected to fight Lewis had he beat Hunt, went on Twitter and mocked Lewis for losing to a much older fighter.
Lewis responded in typical fashion: “Travis Browne waking up from the dead saying he wants a rematch and Francis learning how to use google translator talking shit.” Maybe Lewis went out on a low note, at least as far as his fighting performance went, this past Saturday. Or maybe his family accepts to go through it one more time and let him throw some heavy leather in the cage—hopefully with a bigger gas tank than last time.