Updated Odds, UFC 271 Pick for Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa: Heavyweight Co-Main Event Will End Early
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: Derrick Lewis.
Updated Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa Odds
Heavyweight contenders Derrick Lewis (No. 3) and Tai Tuivasa (No. 11) will meet in the explosive co-main event of Saturday’s UFC 271 card. The previous four fights for both men have each ended by TKO and Tuivasa has three first-round finishes over that span.
Will we get another shoey celebration from Tuivasa or a signature chest pounding from Lewis? I break down this exciting co-main event below.
Tale of the Tape
|Record||26-8 (1 NC)||14-3|
|Avg. Fight Time||9:29||6:30|
|Weight (pounds)||260 lbs.||264 lbs.|
|Date of birth||2/7/85||3/16/93|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||2.52||4.63|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.48||3.51|
|Take Down Avg||0.48||0.0|
Saturday’s co-main event is one of the most enticing non-title heavyweight fights in UFC history, with a pair of vicious brawlers and fan favorites going head-to-head in Lewis’ hometown of Houston.
Following his loss (also in Houston) to Ciryl Gane last August, Lewis was far more aggressive in his recent main event matchup with Chris Daukaus, recording a first-round finish for the first time since 2016. Despite his power, the UFC’s all-time knockout king isn’t necessarily an under machine because he tends to sit back and wait for his opponents to make a mistake.
Half of Lewis’s 24 UFC fights have gone past the 7.5-minute mark.
There is certainly a chance that Tuivasa looks to stand at range and blast Lewis repeatedly with low kicks, but it seems inevitable that these two end up swinging in the pocket relatively early.
While most opponents are hesitant against Lewis — and tend to get into staring contests because of his power — Tuivasa rarely commits to a game plan for a lengthy period of time, and his killer instinct is turned up to an 11. The Aussie tends to overcommit to exchanges when he feels like he has an advantage, even if that leaves him open to big counters.
Lewis is the larger man (four-inch reach advantage) and though I doubt either man tries to grapple, he likely has the strength and wrestling advantage too, which justifies his status as favorite.
Lewis takes a lot of flak for his lack of MMA skills, but he is still adding to his tool belt, firing an accurate roundhouse kick and looking for a trip takedown in his last fight before finishing the proceedings with a collar tie:
Derrick Lewis is clever. He noticed Daukaus was moving & far away. Very hard to land on. He tries a kick that looks like a joke, but isn't: the jumping roundhouse. It pushes Daukaus to fenceline, which makes him tall and hittable.
Lewis tried inside trip later to do same thing. pic.twitter.com/N9zQwBz5au
— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) December 20, 2021
But the difference in his aggression was key to the outcome. Lewis’ coaches encouraged him to pursue his opponent, rather than putting his back to the cage, losing minutes and allowing his opponent to find a rhythm. That aggression produced a violent finish.
As a result, I wouldn’t expect to watch Lewis stand back and let Tuivasa kick his leg apart, instead launching forward at one of those naked kick attempts and try to catch the Aussie clean or at least back him up to the fence.
If Lewis comes forward and Tuivasa refuses to back up, one of these heavyweights will fall.
However, “Bam Bam” likely needs to work the legs and body if he wants to put Lewis down, whereas “The Black Beast” is much likelier to end this fight with one punch.
Given the matchup, and the placement on this card, I would assume both men understand what is on the line, also that a 15-minute staring contest would not be well-received by fans or UFC brass.
Lewis vs. Tuivasa Pick
This is a clear step up in competition for Tuivasa, coming off of four-consecutive early stoppages. He has a chance to push his way into the title picture with the biggest win of his career.
Given the success that both men have had with their aggression of late, I suspect that we see the most violent possible version of this fight.
While I don’t show value on either side of the moneyline or any prop-bets for this fight, I projected this bout to end inside the distance 83% of the time (-493 implied), and I bet the Under 1.5 Rounds at -165.
Depending on the book, I either gained (as high as -200) or lost (as low as -155) closing line value on that wager to this point. And while I normally look to take the Over 1.5 in heavyweight fights, both men are coming in full of confidence and with an aggressive mindset.
I would bet the Under 1.5 to -186 (65% implied), but I wouldn’t go past that juicy price tag.
The Pick: Under 1.5 Rounds (-170)