What a show ladies and gentleman, we owe the
UFC 281 competitors our lunch money and then some.
From Pereira's last round glory to Poirier's blood bath.
This is the comedown. From ecstasy to equilibrium.
While we feverishly await the next blockbuster card,
in this interim we pray for war between the heavyweights.
1. Derrick Lewis (26-10-1NC) vs. Sergey Spivak (15-3)
On one side, we have one of the funniest and unassuming 'daddest men' on the planet. On the other side, we have a Moldovan polar bear who helped rid us of American football's hardiest scumbag. Both men have given us much to be grateful for, but now they will clash and a single victor will be left to carry our blood thirsty hearts. Hot damn do we love us some Derrick "my balls was hot" Lewis, we will put the focus on him first. His best recent stretch saw him win 4 fights, capitalized by a vicious uppercut KO of Curtis Blaydes. Then in an effort to ruin our good time, the UFC pinned him against surging frenchman Ciryl Gane for the interim title. This would be Lewis' second title fight to date and it would end just as sad. The saddest part might be that this fight took place in his native state of Texas. To keep the sadness train rolling, he would go 1-2 in his next three fights, with the last two ending by KO/TKO and the most recent loss being his only pro fight without Head Coach Bob Perez in his corner.
Fast forward to Sergey Spivak, this is where things can get dicey. Up until a few years ago, losing 3 in a row in the UFC triggered the "here's your walking papers, sorry it didn't work out, but please delete our phone number" conversation. Being the fan favorite Derrick is, that probably won't be the case, but we still won't wish that evil on him. Sergey is also a destroyer, having won 5 of his last 6, with 3 of them ending by ground and pound. This fight might come down to Derrick's ability to keep it on the feet, a common thread in his career, he has an unnatural ability to will himself back to his feet from a precarious position. That being said, if he leans on that backup plan against Sergey, he will find himself on the receiving end of thunderous hammer fists and elbows. We saw the most brilliant display of this in his smashing of ex-footballer Greg Hardy. The unnerving x-factor in this bout? "Thank God this heavyweight fight is scheduled for 5 rounds" - said no one ever. Let's hope that both men get to show off their stuff and no one gets blown away too early, but let's not hold our breath.
Hardcore History: Derrick Lewis has had a seriously rough go of it, to say the least. At 13 years young, he and his seven siblings fled Louisiana with their Mother to save her from rampant domestic abuse. After establishing themselves in their new home of Texas, Derrick would go on to be the first in his family to attend college, on a full ride football scholarship to Kilgore Community College. Unfortunately his major life drama wasn't over. After losing his cool in a bar fight where he beat the daylight out of an alleged KKK member(s), he would go on to serve almost 4 years in prison upon violating his probation. Having lost out on a potentially great sports career, Derrick took a job as a tow-truck driver. The nature of that industry doesn't typically promote health and exercise, on advice from a friend he sought out a new boxing gym, admittedly in an effort to maintain his weight. He would later train under the tutelage of Olympic gold medalist George Foreman, although that was short lived as he would ultimately shift his focus to MMA training, taking his first amateur MMA fight at 24 years old.
Good luck finding much of anything on the internet about his opponent Sergey 'The Polar Bear' Spivak. He was born and raised in Chișinău, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova. Located at the center of the country, Chișinău is the largest city, with a municipal population upwards of 750,000. For perspective, the county of San Diego begrudgingly plays host to about 3.29 million residents. Sergey started his MMA career in his Eastern European home around the age of 18, going pro at 19 and winning his first 9 pro fights, all of them by stoppage. He made his debut with the UFC at age 24, taking an extremely short notice bout against veteran Walt Harris, losing by 1st round TKO. That is often the price one pays to sign with the premier organization, especially if you're not initially on the radar of UFC matchmakers.
2. Chase Sherman (16-10) vs. Waldo Cortes-Acosta (8-0)
Some people in the MMA community (just me) are telling themselves that Chase Sherman's last opponent pulled out of the fight because of Chase's devastating power, striking fear into the hearts of all upcoming heavyweights. Who would want to fight a vicious knock out artist who lost 4 out of his last 5 fights? Wait, he lost how many? And the UFC wants him to face an undefeated fighter with 3 of his last 4 wins coming by stoppage? Ok, we (I) have it twisted.
This will be a slobber knocker, but maybe at the expense of Chase. After all, Waldo is pretty decent on the feet and boasts a very durable gas tank, he should match up well against our boy "The Vanilla Gorilla". If the UFC doesn't see Chase as a potential title contender and the younger Waldo is undefeated, then maybe Chase is the sacrificial goat to promote the lesser known "Salsa Boy", who doesn't even have a wikipedia page. Yikes. As of right now, Waldo is coming in as the slight favorite, making the underdog pick oh so tempting. I'll let Dave dive a little deeper into those odds.
Hardcore History: Jonathan Chase Sherman was born in D'Iberville, Mississippi, a Gulf Coast town with a population of less than 10 thousand. He played high school football in the same town and took that all the way to Division II Delta State College. After graduating, Chase transitioned to MMA, moving into a training partner's shed. He had but a few bucks in his pocket and bet it all on MMA. It wasn't until his third UFC fight that he picked up his first win in the orginzation and hasn't looked back. He currently trains with 'Iron' Mike Chandler and the boys at Kill Cliff MMA, formerly known as Sanford MMA, led by Head Coach Henri Hooft.
As for Waldo Cortes-Acosta, he was born in an even smaller town than his opponent. The Barahona Province of the Dominican Republic hosts a central town called Fundación with a population around 8.4 thousand. It was there where Waldo established himself in the local baseball circuit, a trending avenue for those looking to enter the North American sports market. He sustained an injury while pitching and tried a transition to American Football, but the language barrier proved to be an obstacle he didn't care to hurdle. Seeking an entirely new path into elite sports, Waldo tried his hand in combat sports, specifically with boxing. At 23 years old he took an amateur MMA fight and would go on to win 5 of his next 6, before sticking to boxing. Unofficially he took 7 boxing fights before moving on to Pro MMA.
3. Jack Della Maddalena (12-2) vs. Danny Roberts (18-6)
This guy Jack, he is only in it to kill or be killed. With 16 total fights between amateur and professional, only 2 of them have gone to decision. The ride started shaky when he lost his first two pro fights by stoppage, but both were at middleweight and his head coach wasn’t present for the second one. After a legitimate reconfiguration and refocus, he moved down to welterweight and has been on an absolute tear with 11 stoppages in 12 wins. At 26 years young, the ceiling is damn near non-existent for the red head kid from Perth. Assuming the recent birth of his first baby boy doesn't soften him up, he should have some extra motivation going into this matchup considering the UFC will be making a huge splash in his native Perth for UFC 284 headlined by Aussie great Alexander Volkanovski. The quicker he wins here, in an effort to take as little damage as possible, the better his chances at snagging a featured prelim spot, if not a PPV debut.
As for his opponent, Danny Roberts, his initial blast off into Pro MMA went just a tad differently. He won his first 6 pro fights with 5 of them by stoppage, then ran into a single hiccup, but adjusted well and went on to win his next 7 in a damn row. Guy was looking golden. Enter the thunderous road block that is current bare knuckle boxer ‘Platinum’ Mike Perry. What a character, I mean who created that guy?! After 2 rounds of war, Danny crumbled from a vicious Mike Perry knee followed by punches. That fight clearly had a heavy effect on his career, after it he went 5-4, getting finished in 3 of the 4 losses. We may have another fight here where the big brass is betting on one guy to make a name for himself at the expense of the other guy, groomed for a beating. With a spectactular win here, Jack could be setup to take on a top 15 opponent, but that could also just be my desperate attempt at making this fight seem more important.
Hardcore History: Giacomo Della Maddalena was born in and fights out of Australia, with his roots firmly planted in Perth, Western Australia. With an early interest in ‘Pro Wresting’, he stumbled upon his first MMA video and caught the bug knowing he had to compete at any cost. At just 14 years old, he entered the gym he still calls home today, Scrappy MMA. After 4 long years, due to local restrictions, he would turn 18 and finally get his first fight. The rest is history (well, you already know).
Danny 'Hot Chocolate' Roberts was born in London, England and fights out of Bristol, England. Having a rough go of it early, Danny was lost in the shuffle of having… wait for it… 10 siblings! He often fell into trouble and got himself expelled from multiple different schools. At age 16 he found boxing and worked on that technique for many years, until finally at 23 he took his first amateur MMA fight. Unfortunately he lost that debut, but as we’ve learned, he righted the ship quickly and won 13 of his first 14 pro fights. Danny trained for a fairly long time at Next Generation MMA in Liverpool with the likes of ‘Meatball’ Molly McCann and rising star Paddy Pimblett. As of this past year, he has parted ways with that gym.