The heavyweight division isn’t quite ready to move on to the next generation yet, as Derrick Lewis continued his reign of terror with a record-breaking 13th knockout victory over Chris Daukaus.
The number three ranked heavyweight in the world was going up against the number seven ranked fighter, with big implications in title contention for the early part of 2022.
But with victory for the red corner, the title picture won’t be changing too much ahead of UFC 270.
It was a cagey opening few minutes, with both fighters not wanting to feel the other’s power early on but also trying to measure the range they could strike at.
Lewis slowly backed Daukaus against the cage by taking the centre and cutting the angles, so Daukaus tried to use his speed and a few leg kicks to get him to back up. It didn’t work, and mid-way through the round ‘the Black Beast’ through together a big flurry of strikes that clearly hurt his opponent.
Daukaus attempted to clinch up, but Lewis kneed him in the body and landed three big uppercuts that dropped him and saw the fight waved off immediately.
The win will likely see him move up to number two in the rankings, ahead of former champion Stipe Miocic who hasn’t fought since losing the title back at UFC 260.
A fight between the two seems like a logical next step, with Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane meeting in the main event of January’s pay-per-view card at UFC 270 for the undisputed heavyweight title.
Lewis offered to step in on short-notice if anything happened to either of those fighters, but he also said he didn’t really want to fight five-round fights anymore either.
If Jon Jones opts to return to the UFC in 2022, he is likely to be next in line for a title shot against the winner of that main event which would make Miocic vs Lewis a brilliant number one contender fight.
In the welterweight division, there was a change of guard however in the title contender positions as Belal Muhammad beat number five ranked Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson convincingly to move into contention.
It was a dominant performance from ‘Remember the Name’, who used his brilliant wrestling to nullify the striking of Wonderboy and waltz to a 30-25, 30-26, 30-26 decision victory.
After the fight, he called out both champion Kamaru Usman and contender Leon Edwards for his next bout and both are very possible.
Usman is currently nursing a hand injury after his win over Colby Covington at UFC 268, but has cleaned out the division and is searching for new opponents.
Edwards is on a 12-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC, with a no-contest against Muhammad in their short-notice bout at UFC Vegas 21 snapping a winning streak that has stretched since 2015 when he lost to Usman.
Running that fight back now would make sense, although Edwards has certainly done enough to claim a title shot already and that could allow for Muhammad to be paired up with Gilbert Burns too.
Whoever his next fight is against, Muhammad has made it very clear that he belongs among the top names in the division and with a win over a top-five guy he could very well find himself standing across from the champion in 2022.