Derrick Lewis will kick off 2022 with a hometown bout, despite recently saying that wouldn’t be his first choice.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that the UFC is targeting a heavyweight clash between Lewis and the surging Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271. The event takes place Feb. 12 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. MMA Junkie was the first to report the booking.
Lewis ended 2021 with a vicious knockout win over Chris Daukaus in the promotion’s final bout of the year at UFC Vegas 45. “The Black Beast” competed in Houston earlier in the year when he face Ciryl Gane in the main event of August’s UFC 265 card for the interim heavyweight title, a bout the Gane won via TKO. In a recent interview on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Lewis discussed the pressures attached to competing in front of his home crowd and hoped to no longer have to deal with that. Two fights later, he returns to Houston looking to right that wrong.
Tuivasa entered 2020 on a three-fight skid but has turned things around in a big way with four consecutive knockout victories. “Bam Bam” went 3-0 during a breakout 2021 campaign with first-round stoppages of Harry Hunsucker and Greg Hardy, along with a second-round round finish of Augusto Sakai in his most recent appearance at UFC 269 in December.
UFC 271 is expected to be headlined by a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker.
MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin contributed to this report.