Check out my Fight Analysis Criteria used to determine a winner for this matchup.
1. Dos Santos and Lewis have three common opponents:
- Gabriel Gonzaga
- Dos Santos Win by 1st Round Knockout (3/21/2010)
- Lewis Win by 1st Round Knockout (4/10/2016)
- Roy Nelson
- Dos Santos Win by Unanimous Decision (8/7/2010)
- Lewis Win by Split Decision (7/7/2016)
- Mark Hunt
- Dos Santos Win by 3rd Round Knockout (5/25/2013)
- Lewis Loss by Technical Knock Out (6/11/2017)
- Roy Nelson
Gonzaga had 11 fights between Dos Santos and Lewis going 6-5 with 3 Knockout losses. He had 4 Knockout losses before fighting Dos Santos.
Lewis vs. Gonzaga: Gonzaga took Lewis down early and took his back with double hooks but Lewis stood up, they clinched a bit and after a separation by the ref, Lewis came in for the kill at the end of the first with a big Knockout combo to end the fight.
Dos Santos vs. Gonzaga: After an early feel out process, Gonzaga landed a double-leg takedown on Dos Santos who popped right back up. They threw back and forth and Dos Santos was more effective with measuring, he landed a solid counter left hook on Gonzaga’s leg kick and ended the fight with ground and pound.
**Dos Santo’s victory was more important because he did it first against a less diminished Gonzaga*
Roy Nelson was 15-4 facing Dos Santos with several wars and one Knockout loss. Nelson was 21-12 going in to the Lewis fight with several more wars and one more Knockout loss. Nelson was a fair test for both men and although he looked much worse against Dos Santos, I think that’s a tribute to JDS and not a knock on his ability during the Lewis fight.
Lewis vs. Nelson: Nelson landed two take downs in the 1st round and had a little success with ground and pound but his wrestling and clinching was mostly in response to Derrick’s super aggressive and successful striking. In the 2nd round Roy had some success forcing the fight where he wanted it even though Derrick got back up repeatedly and threw some big strikes with a bit of success. Nelson got Lewis down in the third and kept him there for 2+ minutes. After Derrick got up, Roy got him down again, very briefly. After a separation by the referee, Lewis had some success with big strikes and split the end of the round between landing significant strikes and defending Roy’s clinch. This was a pure Split Decision and either man could be considered victor, personally, I had Big Country by a small margin.
Dos Santos vs. Nelson: After an aggressive feeling out process, Nelson clinched with Dos Santos but could not land a take down. Junior Dos Santos landed on Roy Nelson consistently and at an aggressive pace throughout round 1 almost taking him out on several occasions. Junior paced himself more in the second round and looked for precision shots on Nelson who had a little bit of success despite several failed takedown attempts. The third round was more of the same, Dos Santos won a well paced intelligent fight by out striking and outsmarting Nelson.
Lewis vs. Hunt: Round 1 was slightly more than a feeling out process where Hunt controlled the cage and had the only few landed strikes of the round. The second round was another medium paced round with Hunt taking the center and Lewis being semi-effective with his bursts. The end of the round saw Hunt land a shot that rocked Lewis, they went back and forth with the slight edge to Hunt in effective strikes. Hunt took the center of the cage early in round 3 but Lewis was effective with the counter striking threats and his burst striking until he got tired and Mark Hunt took over as the aggressor, landing to the body, to the head, and with leg kicks. Mark Hunt took the center of the cage in the 4th with Derrick fading to the fence and circling the outside where he got hurt minorly, early but kept Hunt at distance by exploding with big strikes periodically. Hunt landed a few nice punches but the ref basically stopped the fight because Derrick Lewis was too tired and not defending intelligently.
Dos Santos vs. Hunt: Both men came out to measure and Hunt displayed calm and competent striking until Junior landed a big overhand right that put Hunt down. Junior displayed superior striking early with well timed counters, superior speed, and consistency landing on Hunt who remained a calm and competent threat. Round two showed Hunt defending intelligently and keeping a threat despite Junior landing the bigger punches and moving more effectively. Hunt had some success pressing Junior against the cage and Junior responded by hitting a take down and threatening him on the ground with submission attempts and minimal ground and pound. Hunt came out more aggressive and looking for a Knockout in round three and Dos Santos looked for the counter and maintained crisp movement. Junior is looking for the big Knockout off a counter and having success mixing up strikes on Hunt and threatening the take down. Hunt is struggling to keep get in on Junior and putting himself at risk. Junior landed hard on Hunt and rocked him. He must not have recovered because Junior landed a telegraphed spinning head kick.
2. Some of their mutual opponents are more relevant than others. Gonzaga for example, was not the same fighter vs. Dos Santos as he was vs. Lewis and so he’s irrelevant. Roy Nelson is just as good now, almost, as he ever was so he is a very relevant mutual opponent. Basing this match up simply on their respective performances against Nelson, Dos Santos should be able to outclass Lewis. He showcased faster, tighter, and more accurate striking than Lewis did. Lewis relied on explosions and heart and ultimately won a very close split decision. Mark Hunt is also a relevant mutual opponent. This one was closer but would still indicate that Dos Santos is the cleaner striker with better cardio. Using the history of mutual opponents, Dos Santos fought and beat younger, better versions of the men that Lewis fought and split a decision win and a technical knock out loss to. Dos Santos wins by this math.
3. Junior Dos Santos is 6’4″, 248 lbs, has a 77 inch reach, and is 35 years old. Derrick Lewis is 6’3″, 265 lbs, has a 79 inch reach, and is 34 years old. Lewis has a better reach and he’s younger. While the tale of the tape is very close, the slight edge goes to Derrick Lewis for height and age. Their experience is similar with Derrick having 28 fights and Junior having 25.
4. It’s been eight years since Dos Santos was in his prime. In that eight years he’s had four losses, three knockouts and two of the most brutal fights in UFC history where he took excessive damage. Lewis has not really suffered a true knock out loss in the UFC in over five years and though he was dominated in his last outing, it was all on the ground via the champ, Daniel Cormier. Derrick Lewis will come out throwing hard body kicks without fear of a takedown and he’ll have some success. Junior will counter over the top and rock Lewis but he’ll survive. The first round will see more success out of Dos Santos due to his superior foot work and intelligent circling. In the second round, Junior will open up more and this is Lewis’ opportunity for a knock out but he’ll miss it. The third round will have Junior playing a stick and move game and keeping Lewis following. In the midst of this following, I think Derrick lands the big one but he won’t have enough to follow up and finish. Junior will practice a careful game for four and five and do just enough to escape Derrick’s bursts of power striking.
5. X-Factors: My biggest question is, who hits harder, Lewis or Tuivasa? I think Lewis. Junior is war-torn but he’s got enough in the tank to circle on Derrick and make him chase without success. Another factor is Derrick’s cardio, he’s looked better in the past but in his last real fight, against Volkov, he didn’t have the kind of cardio that will be effective against Junior Dos Santos.
Official Prediction: Junior Dos Santos by Unanimous Decision (49-46)