THE 33-YEAR-OLD UFC CONTENDER NEVER PULLS HIS PUNCHES
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SI: What has reaction been to your win over Alexander Volkov [on Oct. 6]?
Derrick Lewis: A lot of people became fans of mine. Of course I got a couple haters, but it's going to be hard for them to really doubt me, even though the odds are still not in my favor [in his fight against champ Daniel Cormier on Nov. 3]. But I like it like that.
SI: Have you had a lot of doubters?
DL: Of course. Everyone knows I'm not a mixed martial artist. I'm a brawler. I don't care about MMA like the rest of these guys.
SI: How did you become a pro fighter?
DL: I wanted to start in boxing, but you have to train a little harder to be a boxer. A lot of those guys can take punches. MMA, you only have to hit someone so hard to knock them out.
SI: What do you enjoy most about being a mixed martial artist?
DL: Oh, the money. That's the only reason I'm in mixed martial arts. I don't care about being the best fighter in the world, or being champion, or trying to set a legacy. I don't care about none of that. To me, it's a job.
SI: Your interviews are so entertaining. Why?
DL: Because I don't care about them. So I say whatever I want.
SI: Back to the Volkov fight. What was your mind-set entering the final round?
DL: I knew I had to wait until the end of the fight to try to finish this guy. I've been in that situation many times before—where I'm losing and I have to knock a guy out.
SI: It seems as if you're built that way. You can withstand the punishment for a couple of rounds, then land the big jackhammer punch to end it.
DL: My heart outweighs all the talent. If they've got more talent, I believe that my heart will still overcome that. You've got to have heart to step inside the octagon anyway.
SI: Once the fight was over, how long until you were feeling all right again?
DL: It took really just a day and a half. Once I got home, I felt a lot better. I took a bath. Couldn't take any baths there. They only had showers. Then I went to the gym, got in the hot tub and I felt good.
SI: Bath salts? Bubbles?
DL: Oh, yeah, bath salts. The only way.
SI: Nice little lavender?
DL: Oh, yeah. The purple stuff.
SI: What would a 15-year-old Derrick Lewis have said if he were told he'd be fighting for an MMA belt one day?
DL: He'd be like, no, I'll never be fighting, I'll be in the NFL. That's what I wanted to do.
SI: Did you get close?
DL: I went to Kilgore [Texas] College, I had a full scholarship. Then I got in trouble, went to prison [for assault] for a few years. Then I got out, then a year and a half later I started fighting.
SI: Have you thought about what you want to do when you stop fighting?
DL: Run my company. My wife and I have a [hair] salon. I have a couple of properties. Bought some houses and just rent them out.
SI: Are you in the salon a lot?
DL: No, my wife don't let me in there.