UFC 244: 'Shy guy' Derrick Lewis targets big win over Blagoy Ivanov at Madison Square Garden (VIDEO)
UFC heavyweight star Derrick Lewis returns to the octagon at UFC 244 on Saturday night and he says he's feeling as relaxed as he's ever felt ahead of his bout at Madison Square Garden this weekend.
Lewis, known to his legion of fans as "The Black Beast" takes on teak-tough Bulgarian contender Blagoy Ivanov in New York knowing that a crowd-pleasing finish could push him one big step closer to a shot at the heavyweight title sometime in 2020.
And, speaking to RT Sport during media day, the Texan heavyweight says he's in great shape heading into the contest.
"I'm feeling rejuvenated, I'm feeling ready to go, really," he said.
"I'm very happy. I haven't been happy to fight in so long, so I'm really happy right now. Excited and ready to get back in there."Also on rt.com UFC 244: How the firm's two 'baddest motherf***ers' combined for the year's most anticipated fight
Despite being one of the biggest fan-favorites in the UFC's heavyweight division, Lewis says he shies away from the spotlight, and is enjoying being placed a little further down the card, rather than finding himself under the glare of the main event spotlight.
"I kinda like being on the big cards, as long as I'm not the main event and the main focus. I like this," he explained.
"I don't like all eyes on me, because I'm a shy guy. I don't like to be out there and open, so I like to stay humble and fly under the radar."
Lewis said his opponent Ivanov is "just a tough guy" and knows he'll have to be on top form to get the finish he wants. But he said he would love nothing more than to get a big win in The Big Apple, then chase a rematch with Francis Ngannou, who he fought in a hotly-anticipated, but ultimately disappointing, heavyweight clash at UFC 226 in July 2018.
Most importantly, though, is for Lewis to put another mark in the win column after suffering back-to-back defeats to Daniel Cormier and Junior dos Santos in his last two appearances.
"Yes, of course I'll get the rematch, but the most important thing is getting off this losing streak," he said.
"That's my main focus this weekend, just getting the win."Also on rt.com UFC 244: Jorge Masvidal plans on putting Nate Diaz 'in outer orbit' during Madison Square Garden clash (VIDEO)