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Reluctant title challenger Derrick Lewis finally training hard

Updated October 22, 2018 - 5:06 pm

Some fighters work their entire life for an opportunity to win a UFC title and claim their spot as the best in the world.

Then there’s Derrick Lewis.

“I will try to win the belt, but I really don’t care about if I get it or not,” Lewis said during a media appearance in Las Vegas ahead of his UFC 230 heavyweight title bout against champion Daniel Cormier at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 3.

Lewis is anything but a typical fighter. He admits a disinterest in training has led to cardio issues, but has never really shown much of an interest in ratcheting up his intensity.

Still, he has found a way to go 9-1 in his last 10 fights. He earned the shot against Cormier by scoring a dramatic final minute knockout of Alexander Volkov at T-Mobile Arena after getting beat for most of the 15 minutes and then delivering a hilarious and memorable post-fight speech on the most-watched UFC pay-per-view and history and becoming an overnight star.

“I’m not a mixed martial artist,” Lewis said at the UFC Performance Institute last week. “I don’t train like a mixed martial artist. I don’t respect the sport like everyone else does. I’m just a brawler.

”I go in and fight just to fight. I don’t care about the submissions and the technique, and the bowing and showing respect. I don’t give a damn about none of that. I’m just coming to fight.”

Lewis said the highlight-reel knockout probably earned him about $1 million and seeing all the zeros on the contract inspired him to train harder for this fight.

He said his training sessions have typically been about a half-hour in the past, with at least five minutes of that time spent posting funny memes on social media. But he cautioned Cormier, a minus-800 favorite, to not look past him.

“I believe he’s thinking it’s going to be an easy fight for himself,” Lewis said of Cormier accepting the fight despite not being fully recovered from a hand injury. “ Go ahead and think that. It’s crazy I even made it this far with the type of training I’ve been putting in before each and every fight.

“I’m serious that I don’t stay in the gym all day like most of my opponents do. But this camp I have been at the gym all day long. We’ve been stepping it up. We’ve been doing a lot of crazy stuff I don’t like to do.”

As for the injury, Lewis laughed about Cormier being less than 100 percent.

“I go into every fight with a bad back, overweight and damn near diabetic, so it doesn’t matter to me that he’s coming in with just a bad hand,” Lewis said. “That’s a good thing for him then.”

The event was supposed to feature a rematch of former middleweight champions Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold, but Rockhold was forced to pull out last week because of an injury.

Weidman will now face top contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

Commission to meet Wednesday

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov are on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting of the Nevada Athletic Commission, though the discussion of the topic will be brief and largely procedural.

Both fighters are under a temporary suspension for their roles in a postfight brawl following their UFC 229 headlining bout at T-Mobile Arena earlier this month. The commission will vote on whether to extend those bans until a full disciplinary hearing can be held, likely in late November or early December.

Neither fighter is expected to appear at the 9 a.m. meeting at the Grant Sawyer Building.

Fight Night 138, eh?

The octagon heads north for UFC FIght Night 138 in Moncton, Canada, on Saturday night.

Volkan Oezdemir will face light heavyweight Anthony Smith in the main event of the card, which will air at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 .

A featherweight bout between Michael Johnson and Artem Lobov, a close friend and training partner of McGregor, is also featured.

Silva wants McGregor

Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva is eligible to come off a USADA suspension next month and he wants a lucrative fight upon his return.

The 43-year-old heard McGregor mention his interest in fighting a “legend” like Silva and has expressed a mutual desire to make the fight happen.

“I accept the challenge,” Silva told TMZ. “I think (UFC president Dana White) needs to think about this because it’s two big guys in this sport. Two big names, two big legends. So why not?”

Silva mostly competed at 185 pounds, but fought all the way up at 205 on several occasions. McGregor has won belts at 145 and 155, though he also fought Nate Diaz at 170 pounds.

Silva proposed a catchweight bout at 180 pounds.

“It’s a superfight,” he said. “It’s not about weight class.”

“Let me tell you something very important: It’s not about money, Conor. It’s about the martial arts challenge

More MMA: Follow all of our MMA and UFC coverage online at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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