There haven’t been a lot of hot prospects in the UFC heavyweight division in recent years. Remember The Ultimate Fighter 10, which brought us Brendan Schaub, Matt Mitrione and eventual winner Roy “Big Country” Nelson (though Nelson had been around in smaller promotions for a while) and also featured YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice? Well, there hasn’t exactly been a huge influx of heavyweight up-and-comers since that time.

Current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez’s time in the UFC pre-dates that TUF season by a year. The same is true of former champion Junior dos Santos. The UFC did pick up Strikeforce’s heavyweight division when it took over and eventually merged the rival promotion, but stars like Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem were already established, and the biggest prospect to be found, Daniel Cormier, would drop to light heavyweight rather than fight friend and training partner Velasquez for the belt.

In other words, it has been a dry few years as far as new faces in the heavyweight division are concerned. Soa Palelei’s return to the UFC started out promising, but he was derailed by another prospect, Jared Rosholt, in New Zealand earlier this month. For his part, Rosholt has a sturdy record, but without a single finish in the UFC, don’t expect him to be heavily promoted any time soon. Nikita Krylov looked promising, but fell to the aforementioned Palelei in his first bout. He bounced back with a head-kick knockout of Walt Harris, who has since been cut by the promotion, but the undersized heavyweight then opted to drop down to light heavyweight, where he is currently 1-1.

That brings us to Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis.

Lewis burst onto the UFC scene earlier this year with a first-round TKO of Jack May at UFC on Fox 11: Browne vs. Werdum. He continued his success in the Octagon with another first-round knockout, this time over Guto Inocente at the TUF 19 finale. With two brutal knockouts in two fights in the UFC, it’s clear that Lewis is a scary, scary fighter. UFC President Dana White said as much at the TUF post-fight press conference, and it’s not an exaggeration (Lewis’ response to a question about his background at that press conference was, at the very least, intimidating).

Lewis is also extremely motivated. Following TUF 19, he called out Matt Mitrione, well aware that Mitrione had trained hard for a fight against Stefan Struve that never came to pass due to a fainting spell suffered by Struve at UFC 175. Lewis also stated that he was training with a focus on champ Cain Velasquez. In short, he’s a fighter with title aspirations.

Motivation is key in the sport of MMA, and callouts can go a long way to further a career. Dana White and company have gone ahead and booked the Lewis vs. Mitrione match. It will take place in September at UFC Fight Night 50. We’ll learn a lot about the potential upside of Lewis at that date, but for now, consider this: scary can be intimidating, but scary doesn’t win fights.

Like Lewis, Jack May was making his UFC debut at UFC on Fox 11. Inocente had been out of action for over a year prior to meeting Lewis. So, while Velasquez may be a target of Lewis, he’s far from a realistic one at this point. Outside of Lewis’s UFC bouts, the biggest name on his record is fellow UFC prospect Rosholt. “The Black Beast” is the only man to defeat the three-time All-American from Oklahoma State, taking Rosholt’s Legacy FC heavyweight title in the process.

There’s also some question as to stamina when it comes to Lewis. He has seen both his losses come from unanimous decisions. All his victories have come from stoppages, though, to be fair, two of those did go to the third round before he scored TKOs in each. One of those losses actually came against fellow UFC heavyweight Shawn Jordan, albeit early in Lewis’s career (in only his second fight). Stamina remains a question mark regardless.

The Mitrione fight will be the litmus test for Lewis. Should he dispatch of “Meathead”—and do so in violent fashion—then perhaps he really can make a run into the top 10 of a notoriously thin heavyweight division. Just remember: scary doesn’t win fights.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.