In the world of MMA, the heavyweight division’s landscape can be challenging for a newcomer with the top being so well established. Current champ Jon Jones is out with an injury, creating an opening in the schedule where he was supposed to face Stipe Miocic. Consequently, Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich, ranked No. 2 and No.4 respectively, are set to contend for the interim title.
Within this heavyweight mix sits a new name, Jailton Almeida, the fresh face who needs to strategize carefully to penetrate the top of this division. Almeida is preparing to headline “UFC Sao Paulo,” where he intends to prolong his unbeaten streak and take on fan favorite Derrick Lewis, a known power puncher. The question that arises is how Almeida, who is more adept at grappling, is planning to dodge this and force the fight to remain on his terms. This is a topic for another column.
Almeida’s primary concern would be the raw power of Lewis, revered as the hardest hitter in UFC history. Lewis isn’t a technical player, but his style of timing the uppercut off a takedown coupled with his love for a brawl has fetched him two heavyweight title fights. However, if Almeida makes a mistake or shoots from an increased distance, he will be KO’d. Lewis’ fight strategy when facing a grappler centers on his right hand.
Almeida’s approach for circumventing Lewis’ power punch is straightforward. The strength of Lewis is immense and he usually waits for an uppercut when opponents attempt to drive his power hand. However, Lewis tends to retreat when attacked, which gives Almeida an opportunity to use his double-leg takedown skill. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Almeida prefers the fight to be on the ground where he can dominate. His working strategy is to bamboozle opponents with hand slaps and left hooks in order to lead them into the vicinity of his hips.
Besides, Almeida’s main setup for the shot begins with a kick to the opponent’s face and changing levels to reach the hips as soon as his foot touches the ground. This also serves in distracting the opponent from the impending danger. But hex will not linger around Lewis’ hips and will look to complete the takedown quickly, ensuring he doesn’t get punched.
Once Almeida brings the fight to the ground, he will need to assure it remains there. However, if Lewis, as seen in his previous fights, stands back up, Almeida will need to tackle that. To maintain the fight on the floor, Almeida relies on the opponent’s missteps, taking advantage of an opportunity to slide his knee across and into full mount. However, fighting Lewis comes with its risks. Despite being a power puncher, “Black Beast,” as Lewis is fondly known, is not invincible as Ciryl Gane’s victory over him depicts. Almeida is likely to follow this strategy and strive for a victorious bout.