Derrick Lewis is currently the #10 ranked heavyweight in the UFC and he is coming off of a win over Roy Nelson, but after entering the top ten, Lewis expected to headline his first UFC card against a top ten opponent, instead he got #15 Shamil Abdurakhimov.
“I was really expecting, like a Travis Browne or Mark Hunt – one of the top 10 guys,” Lewis told MMA Junkie. “Whenever they gave me this guy right here, I didn’t know what to say. Maybe they’re just trying to give me a gift – of maybe they know something I don’t know. So I’m really taking this fight really serious – I’m not underestimating the guy, even though I don’t know how to say his last name. I was hoping that two or three more fights, if I can win them all, get a title shot. But I know I’ve got to fight big names, and I was hoping my next opponent would be a big name. He could help me get there. I think the experience and the skill level, that will get me there – not fighting guys like this. At the beginning of the camp, I really didn’t take it serious. I didn’t train as hard as I was supposed to because I had just finished training a few weeks before, real hard. But this last month, I really picked it up and really took this guy serious. It really hit me that, ‘You’re the main event in the UFC – a lot of eyes on you. A lot of people don’t believe that you should be main event in the UFC.’ I think I’ve got a lot to prove.”
Abdurakhimov may not be the biggest name in the UFC, but when you look at the seventeen wins he has earned throughout his MMA career, you would notice big wins over Anthony Hamilton and Walt Harris under the UFC banner. Other wins outside of the promotion have come over UFC veterans Jeff Monson and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, while also holding a victory. over Bellator MMA veteran Neil Grove.
UFC Fight Night 102 takes place on Friday, December 9 from the Times Union Center in Albany, New York with Derrick Lewis and Shamil Abdurakhimov headlining.