Derrick Lewis vs. Sergey Spivak

A heavyweight clash between Derrick Lewis and Sergey Spivak is this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 218 main event.

Lewis, a former heavyweight title challenger, will re-enter the octagon for the five-round bout at the UFC Apex facility after losing his last two fights against Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich. “The Black Beast” is now 1-3 in his last four fights and now has a professional record of 26-10.

Spivak enters with momentum on his side, having won five of his last six fights, including back-to-back knockout wins last year. Spivak’s most recent victory was a second-round TKO against Augusto Sakai in August. Before then, Spivak stopped Greg Hardy in the first round at UFC 272 in March.

The heavyweight main event could shake up the official UFC rankings with Lewis currently residing at #7 and Spivak looking to move up from his #12 position.

Read on for our staff predictions, analysis, fight breakdown, and the latest betting odds before the UFC Fight Night 218 (UFC Vegas 68) main event.

Betting Odds

Derrick Lewis will step into the cage as the betting underdog with odds of +200 at some bookmakers. Sergey Spivak’s two-fight win streak is enough to see him currently listed as a -225 favorite on some sites.

  • Derrick Lewis: +200
  • Sergey Spivak: -225

Fight Prediction

Braeden Arbour

Derrick Lewis has a very obvious but frightening way of fighting. His right hand can be compared to any of the best knockout tools in MMA history and because of this most of his tactical choices revolve around getting an opportunity to land it. Derrick Lewis may choose to be on the back foot and clip his opponents as they try to get to him, or he pressures them with wild strikes like his jumping knees and big looping punches to get them to over-exaggerate as they try to escape from between him and the cage and in that chaos he has become excellent at finding the chin. While Derrick Lewis is often on the less technical side of fighters at his level, his power and accuracy are extremely unique.

For Sergey Spivac, it is likely his best option to grapple. For Lewis this means managing his range, both being the aggressor to put Spivak on the backfoot but also not crashing into a clinch situation. It also means giving Spivak both threats up high like his overhands and uppercuts to make him think before shooting or clinching up. For Spivak, trying to tie up Lewis in the clinch and using trips rather than level changes could be smart, as Lewis is so physically powerful if he has use of his hips. His physicality allows him to have greater success with basic bridging and tripoding out of positions that other fighters can’t mimic, but if Spivak can trip him into a dominant position, side control would be effective, and keeping weight on one of Lewis’ legs he can make it far more difficult for him. Even if Spivak can mount, Lewis has been able to roll and reverse, especially if Spivak is looking for an arm triangle or other submissions that don’t allow him to post and maintain top control. That being said, being patient in controlling positions like side control and half guard can wear out Lewis, and once tired that physicality can’t make up the difference in grappling as well as early on, which is where Spivak’s submissions become a particularly dangerous weapon against Lewis.

Spivak has a wide array of submissions on his record, including an arm triangle, a neck crank, a rear-naked choke, a pair of armbars, and a kimura. This fight will be won on who dictates where it’s fought. If Lewis can force a kickboxing bout he has 25 minutes to find Spivac’s chin, but if Spivak can get Lewis down, be patient in his control a tired Lewis makes more mistakes on the ground, but even in the fifth round he can knock anyone out. Isolating limbs, pinning legs, flattening Lewis out, and basically making him use jiu-jitsu instead of power wrestling will really help Spivak on the mat if he can accomplish it, and I think he can.

Pick: Sergey Spivak to win (-225)

Michael Pounders

Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis, knockout king of the UFC, is currently on a 2-fight losing streak where he himself has been KO’d in back-to-back fights. In fact, Lewis is 3-3 in his last 6 fights dating back to 2020 and each of them has ended by knockout. Interestingly, an x-factor in this fight is Lewis’ physique. From pictures he’s posted on social media, Lewis appears to be much leaner and smaller than in the past. Previously, Lewis would weigh in around 260 pounds and fight north of that marker come fight night. His weight, which made him dense and created a low center of gravity, was pivotal in his takedown defense and power. Lewis has always had surprisingly stout takedown defense considering his technique was less steeped in fundamentals and more so steeped in “just stay up.” Lewis would use the cage, his density, and his low center of gravity to resist takedown attempts. Then, if he was taken down, he had an innate ability to get back up without shrimping, scrambling, or even giving up his back. Lewis just stood up. This was possible because of his size, weight, density, and overall strength. His power, legendary as it is, was also aided by his size. Although Lewis is not one of the larger heavyweights on the roster, nor is he as muscular as some of his counterparts, because of his low center of gravity, Lewis was able to plant his feet and drive his strikes with devastating power originating from the ground. His power may still be readily available, but if he really is significantly lighter than in the past, it’s likely his power is lighter as well. Considering he’s facing a grapple-first heavyweight who has been susceptible to power in the past, Lewis’ new physique is perplexing. However, it does come with some positives. He should be more mobile and quicker. His opponent is slow and plodding so Lewis’ speed advantage should be significant. If he was able to keep his power, an increase in speed may create more openings to land his patented kill shot.

Sergey “The Polar Bear” Spivac is 28 years old and nearly a full decade younger than Lewis. Spivac has been fighting under the UFC banner since 2019 and has amassed a 6-3 record with 4 wins coming inside the distance and 2 losses in the same fashion. Spivac is not your typical UFC heavyweight. Spivac is not a primary striker, in fact, his striking is rudimentary and slow. He tends to throw with volume, land at a respectable rate, and absorbs less than he lands; but, considering his striking stats include ground and pound strikes, those numbers are a bit skewed. Looking beyond the numbers, early in his career, Spivac looked to pepper a jab forward to back his opponent up or entice a counter shot. If his opponent tried to counter a jab, especially with a kick, Spivac took advantage, evaded or ate the strike, and transitioned to a takedown. If his opponent accepted the pressure and was backed into the cage, Spivac would clinch. In either case, Spivac wanted, and still wants, to engage in a grappling match. As he’s progressed through his career, Spivac has improved at setting up his takedown attempts, using more than just a basic jab. He has also improved his timing and explosion on his shots. Spivac is able to time a takedown, drive his hips forward, and get the fight to the mat. In the instances where an opponent stuffs the shot, Spivac has improved his cardio to continue shooting rather than abandoning wrestling in favor of striking, an area of the fight where he is often outmatched. Once he gets the fight down, Spivac is adept at using his weight to hold opponents down with heavy top pressure. Then, he often postures up to land heavy ground and pound. If an opponent attempts to turn over to avoid slicing elbows and thudding fists, Spivac will happily take the back and look for a submission. His biggest issue, which has been significantly better in recent fights, is safely entering range where he can wrestle. Spivac is slow, linear, and predictable on the feet. Against a quality striker, he can be clipped and dropped.

It pains me to say this and part of me hopes I’m wrong but I think Lewis is washed. He appears passive, almost shell shocked, in the cage and has been incapable of letting his hands go without getting finished himself. Now, context is important, and Lewis’ 3 recent losses have come to Gane, previous interim champ, Tuivasa who fought for the belt, and Pavlovich who has dispelled of all but one of his UFC opponents inside of 3 minutes. There is a chance that Lewis and his new physique can combine speed and power en route to another knockout win. However, I don’t think Lewis has it anymore. Spivac should be able to get inside, take Lewis down, and finish him on the mat. Especially considering Lewis’ lighter weight, Spivac’s wrestling should be even more effective.

Pick: Spivac to win inside the distance (-130)

Joe Pounders

Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis is a fan favorite, both for his fighting style and overall personality. Not having gone to a scorecard in his last 6-fights, Derrick Lewis is more than happy to test his strength against his opponent, and whoever’s trait falls short will likely mean they will be put to sleep. This style, of fighting to see who falls first, is certainly more of the traditional style of heavyweight that many fans grew accustomed to given these fighters possess next-level power and often, lack the necessary speed and athleticism to evade the opponent for the full duration of the scheduled affair. While the degree of success for this style has proved somewhat difficult of recent note, particularly when fighting a newer-age opponent, the perhaps best person to showcase the effectiveness of power over speed, particularly in the heavyweight division, is Derrick Lewis.

Lewis, beyond having elite power and setting records for finishes in his career, is able to successfully use power over speed because he understands timing quite well. This timing extends beyond timing a punch to land cleanly, to the point of timing the opportune time to throw end-of-fight power strikes. Moreover, he comprehends the importance of keeping the fight standing for as long as possible to extend the time necessary to land his one-punch, and, because he is simply so large and strong, he is far more difficult to take down than one would initially presume – Curtis Blaydes learned firsthand how blindingly shooting a takedown can prove to be a fatal mistake. Overall, Lewis’ elite power, veteran understanding of timing and duration, and an overall sense of beating non-elite challengers make him an extremely dangerous test to overcome. Moreover, his change in body with becoming much lighter may allow him to add some semblance of speed to his game, and if done without losing out on the power, then he may be the most dangerous he has ever been come Saturday night.

Overcoming a power puncher is a test Sergey Spivac needs to show as he looks to crack the top of the division. For him, fighting an elite power threat is quite dangerous given Spivac’s weakness is on the feet, but, the slow movement of Lewis does present an opportunity for him as well. This opportunity is the ability to secure a takedown, as Spivac is a very good wrestler who wins fights through ground control as well as ground and pound. The effectiveness of fighting in this consistent style has proved dividend, as he is 5-1 over his last 6 fights and is seemingly entering his prime as a fighter. The confidence he should enter with against Lewis is quite important, given trust in his athletic movement on the feet with strong wrestling will be paramount to avoid the threatening power of Lewis. While confidence is indeed important, maintaining continual thought to the one-punch ability of Lewis will be key for Spivac to avoid the same fate as fellow heavyweight wrestler in Blaydes. If he can remain cautious on the feet and cognitively plan his takedowns contrary to shooting just to shoot, he does have the necessary new-age fight style to topple the future HOF’er in Lewis.

Sergey Spivac is looking to have entered his prime as a fighter and is ready to show he can beat the top of the heavyweight division. While I normally confidently favor wrestling-dominate fighters who are on the upward trajectory of their careers, I cannot discount the fact that Lewis has all the experience necessary to showcase once again that timing and power can triumph over technique within the heavyweight division. But, the deciding factor for me is the drastic change in Lewis’ physique signaling he will not be able to out-strength the wrestling attack of Spivac as he may have been able to do when much heavier. Because of this change, I do believe Sergey will eventually find his way to the mat, and once there, he has the skills necessary to find the finish.

Pick: Sergey Spivak to win inside the distance (-130)

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