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Derrick Lewis not retiring, wants to fight Francis Ngannou

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Derrick Lewis says his sudden retirement was a bit premature, but if his back injury heals up he’d like to settle his beef with Francis Ngannou.

UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis surprised nearly everyone when he suddenly retired after a TKO loss to Mark Hunt earlier month in New Zealand. After all, he had been on a six-fight winning streak before the Hunt bout and is only 32 years old. Why would he want to bow out of the sport when he had just signed a lucrative contract extension?

Well it turns out that Lewis isn’t actually going to retire. He said it “in the heat of the moment”, because he was suffering from a debilitating back injury and felt like he could barely move during the bout. As a guest on The MMA Hour today, Lewis explained what’s going on with his back and his career (via MMA Fighting):

“We’re just hoping that we don’t have to get surgery, because I thought about it a little bit, and it’s not going to be my last fight. I’m going to try to get back in there as soon as I can, and we’ll find out Wednesday, see what’s going on and if it’s not too serious. Hopefully I can get back in there before the end of the year.”

He said the back injury goes all the back to 2011, and usually gives him trouble at the start of fight camps. But it persisted going into the Hunt bout, and a massage a couple of days before the fight just made things worse. He persevered, but couldn’t do much in the fight and was stopped in the fourth round.

So if his back doesn’t require surgery, who would he like to fight next? Well, that would be Francis Ngannou, who had some salty things to say about The Black Beast’s performance against Hunt:

“Whenever the booty-scratcher (Ngannou) started talking s--t, and Travis Browne waking up from the dead, talking s--t,” Lewis said.

“That guy (Ngannou) is not impressed with nobody, so it’s normal for him to say anything stupid. ... Travis Browne don’t know what’s he thinking. Travis, he’s out there, man. That guy has been knocked out so many times, he’s been rocked so many times, he don’t know what to say. He’s just trying to stay relevant.”

He said he’s already dealt with Browne, who he knocked out in February. But he wants a shot at Ngannou:

“If I can, I’d get him next,” Lewis said. “If not, that’s fine. I’ll give anyone hell, but right now that’d be a good one.”