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UFC 226 fight card primer: Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis

The co-main event of UFC 226 features a heavyweight fight between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This Saturday night, the octagon returns to the fight capital of the world, as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will host UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier on July 7th. In the co-main event, heavyweights Francis Ngannou (11-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Derrick Lewis (19-5, 1NC MMA, 10-3 UFC) will collide in what promises to be an explosive matchup. The main card will begin at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT on PPV. Four preliminary fights will be shown on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, and two fights will take place on the Fight Pass prelims which begin at 7PM ET/4PM PT.

How do these two stack up?

Ngannou: 31 years old | 6’4” | 83” reach
Lewis: 33 years old | 6’3” | 79” reach

What have these two done recently?

Ngannou: L - Stipe Miocic (DEC) | W - Alistair Overeem (KO) | W - Andrei Arlovski (TKO)
Lewis: W - Marcin Tybura (TKO) | L - Mark Hunt (TKO) | W - Travis Browne (KO)

How did these two get here?

These two huge heavyweights weren’t supposed to be in the co-main event of UFC 226 at all. On Wednesday, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway pulled out of his title fight against Brian Ortega after suffering “concussion-like symptoms,” and Ngannou vs. Lewis was bumped up to the co-main event.

For Ngannou, a fight with Lewis marks an opportunity to reinsert himself back into the title picture at heavyweight. The 31-year-old fell short at heavyweight gold when the division’s champion, Stipe Miocic, defeated him by unanimous decision at UFC 220 in January. Prior to his first loss over four years, Ngannou took the heavyweight division by storm, knocking out the likes of Alistair Overeem and Andrei Arlovski on his path to the title.

A fan favourite, Lewis has picked up three straight fight night bonuses in his last three UFC outings. The most recent being a Performance of the Night bonus when he knocked out Marcin Tybura at UFC Austin in February. “The Black Beast” won six straight fights before being defeated by Mark Hunt in June 2017, his most notable victory being a KO win over Travis Browne.

Why should you care?

Even though this fight wasn’t originally supposed to be the co-headliner for UFC 226, the hype around it makes it a worthy replacement for Holloway vs. Ortega. The staredown between Ngannou and Lewis at the pre-fight press conference on Thursday was full of intensity, and you can guarantee there will be some heavy leather thrown by these two men on Saturday night.

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