The benefit of having such a stacked roster of fighters is that even on short notice the UFC can put on entertaining fights. When the highly-anticipated Nate Diaz vs. Dustin Poirier fight was scratched from the UFC 230 card, the original replacement fight was set to be Ultimate Fighter veteran Sijara Eubanks against Valentina Schevchenko for the vacant UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship.
However, UFC 230 is just the third time the organisation is visiting the world-famous Madison Square Garden arena. In their previous two events at MSG, UFC 205 and UFC 217, the headlining fights were Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez and Michael Bisping vs. Georges St Pierre respectively.
Realising that the UFC needed to have a headlining fight befitting of the prestige of the arena the event was set to be staged in, Dana White made the UFC Heavyweight Championship fight between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis on short notice.
Lewis came into the fight riding a wave of momentum after scoring an incredible, come from behind knockout against Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 just four weeks ago. Meanwhile, DC’s last venture into the Octagon saw him completely flatline Stipe Miocic to become one of just two fighters to have ever held two UFC belts consecutively.
— Edgar Z (@ejz24) November 4, 2018
Though the build-up to the fight didn’t have the amount of venom you might see if DC was facing arch-rival Jon Jones, the Cormier and Lewis still managed to engage in some funny pre-fight banter.
“Brock Lesnar, when you come, bring that new WWE championship belt. I want to be the WWE Champion too.” – DC during his post fight interview in the ring. #UFC230
— MMA Culture & Community (@TheMMACulture) November 4, 2018
The seeds had already been sown at the press conference prior to Cormier’s fight with Miocic. In an interaction caught on the UFC embedded cameras, Cormier references the fact that Lewis had beaten Cormier’s score on the UFC Tonight punch machine.
Look, that fight was what it was. #UFC230
From a competition standpoint it was a complete mismatch.
UFC needed a main event. Lewis makes money. DC makes money.
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) November 4, 2018
Ariel Helwani later asked Lewis where the beef between Lewis and DC had originated from, to which Lewis replied saying that Cormier had disrespected Popeyes chicken. This is a reference to Cormier’s hilarious parody of All About That Bass.
— Centerline MMA (@Centerline_MMA) November 4, 2018
When the pair met in the ring though, the nice feelings subsided and it all business. The fight went the same way the experts predicted with Cormier managing to avoid Lewis’ power and using his superior wrestling. See the finish on the player below: