Derrick Lewis managed to eek out a unanimous decision victory over Ilir Latifi in front of his hometown fans in Texas tonight at UFC 247 after strengthening his case with a late rally in the final minute of the fight.
latifi circling on the outside to start. Cautious start from both men. Lewis unloads a punch that misses and Latifi tries to clinch up. Lewis walks him against the cage.
Body punch and then one upstairs from Latifi as he fights his way out of the clinch.
Lewis goes for a flying knee and it connects to the upper body. Latifi desparately reaches for a body lock and works to the cage with it. Latifi trying to get Lewis down with a single leg, but ‘The Black Beast’ shows good balance to remain standing for now.
Latifi continuing to work in the clinch and landing a couple of short punches to the body. The ref decides there’s not enough action and breaks them apart.
high kick attempt from Lewis. Now one to the leg and again upstairs with the head kick, but Latifi blocks and goes for the cage clinch again.
Back to the single leg for Latifi, but he can’t get Lewis down. Left hand for Latifi as they back away from the clinch. Lewis steps in with another big knee and again Latifi counters by clinching.
Switch head kick from Lewis to start the second. Now a right hand, but Latifi landed a leg kick on the counter.
Leg kick from Lewis now. Latifi lands his again. Lewis a bit more wary now, but lands another leg kick. He tries for a flying knee again and Latifi is back to clinching up.
Short knee strikes to the thighs for Latifi. lewis turns Latifi into the cage and lands a knee. However, Latifi then finally manages to land a takedown.
Latifi in half-guard with almost half the round remaining. Latifi not doing too much with this advantageous position so far other than a few punches to the body. Latifi clearly stalling and the ref stands them up.
lewis with a jab, but misses with a loaded up right hand. Head kick attempt from Lewis. Latifi literally just throws the bigger man to the mat and is able to get on top and keep him there until the end of the round.
Right hand for Lewis, but then Latifi counters with a punch of his own. Another hard right connects for Lewis.
Flying knee to the midsection from Lewis, but Latifi gets double underhooks in the process and is now working for a takedown against the cage. He lifts Lewis into the air and lands the takedown.
Latifi in half guard and has the fight where he wants it in the final round. Again not too much activity from Latifi other than a few body shots and the ref warns him.
Lewis manages to find some space and gets to his knees and then stands. Lewis wading forward now and goes for the flying knee yet again. Punches coming now, but latifi quickly shuts that down with more clinch work.
Lewis lands a solid knee from the clinch position. Latifi pushes him to the cage and then lands a trip takedown, but this time Lewis is quickly back up.
Lewis with a big punch and then a head kick. Latifi troubled now and Lewis lands again, resulting in another desparate clinch from The Sledgehammer.
Lewis lands a couple of big elbows. Lewis finds space and lands another heavy hand. A big uppercut connects, but Latifi’s chin is holding up and though he looks a little wobbled he’s able to hang on in there and make it to the final bell.
So, Latifi opted for a grinding strategy in his heavyweight debut and it looked like that might be enough to edge out a win, but the judges punish him for a lack of output in those advantageous positions on the mat, instead giving the win to Lewis by unanimous decision (29-28 x3).