In a battle between two UFC fan-favourites, it was Australian heavyweight Tai Tuivasa who found the knockout blow against Derrick Lewis at UFC 271.
Against the most damaging puncher in UFC history, Tuivasa ate a bunch of punishment, before dolling out some of his own, which Lewis could not handle.
In a back-and-forth second round, it was a brutal elbow that sent Lewis crashing to the canvas; Tuivasa with a walk-off finish that cemented his place among the division’s elite.
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“That’s the king of knockouts,” Tuivasa said after securing his fifth straight win in the UFC. “But like I said, I’m young… and I’m taking over now.”
After a tentative start to the first round, with both men showing respect for each other’s power, things exploded after an inside trip takedown from Lewis. In trouble, Tuivasa took a flurry of strikes on the ground, before rising to his feet and answering back.
Lewis secured a second takedown in the first in a round that included far more grappling and wrestling than most expected.
The second round followed a more predictable script as Lewis and Tuivasa swung for the fences.
Hometown hero Lewis has more knockouts than anyone in UFC history, but in the end, it was Tuivasa’s chin that held up.
“I like throwing elbows, I like getting nitty gritty, and I’m f***ing always down to get down, baby.”
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As for what’s next, Tuivasa kept it simple: “Whoever, whenever.”
Lewis was the No. 3 ranked heavyweight going into the fight, with Tuivasa (No. 11), set for a huge jump up the division’s rankings.
It wasn’t long ago that Tuivasa had dropped three straight fights in the UFC and was fighting for his career.
After his show against Lewis, Tuivasa proved again why he’s an icon in the mixed martial arts world.