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Lewis Squares Off vs.  Nascimento Saturday in St. Louis
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Lewis Squares Off vs. Nascimento Saturday in St. Louis

The city of St. Louis is bustling this time of year. In the world of gridiron football, the UFL’s BattleHawks enter week seven of the 10-week regular season having gone 5-1 overall through the first six weekends of play ahead of an expected Saturday afternoon road game against the last remaining undefeated team of the competition, the Birmingham Stallions (6-0.)

If the UFL regular season were to end today, the BattleHawks would clinch the No. 1 seed and home field advantage in the XFL conference championship game on the weekend of June 8-9. Enough about football.

Our focus this time is what will happen in St. Louis after the football game ends on Saturday. One week removed from UFC 301 on pay-per-view, the UFC returns for the second of three shows in May.

Enterprise Center, usually home to the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, will host a card of the MMA leader on the eve of Mother’s Day in the United States. Live coverage of UFC St. Louis begins Saturday afternoon at 4:00 PM ET/1:00 PM PT on ESPN+ with the undercard, and continues at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT on ESPN itself with the main card.

Heavyweights take center stage Saturday night in the UFC St. Louis Main Event

All told, barring any late cancellations or postponements between now and the weekend, the final version of UFC St. Louis will feature a full 13-fight card. Heavyweights will be at the top of the bill in the main event of UFC St. Louis.

No. 12 contender Derrick Lewis (27-12, 1 NC MMA, 18-10 UFC) will make his 41st career in the sport as a professional when he takes on No. 15 contender Rodrigo Nascimento (11-1, 1 NC MMA, 4-1 , 1 NC UFC) in the headlining bout. As with all UFC main events, this is an advertised maximum of five rounds of five minutes per round to close the show.

UFC St. Louis Main Event fighters comparison and betting odds

Heading into the main event of UFC St. Louis on Saturday night, β€œThe Black Beast,” Derrick Lewis, stands as the taller man at 6-foot-4, compared to Rodrigo Nascimento’s 6-foot-4 frame. The latter has a one-inch reach advantage (80 inches to 79 inches) over the former, which possesses a half-inch leg reach advantage (even 43 1/2 inches to 43 inches).

Currently, the oddsmakers have Derrick Lewis installed as a -155 favorite on the moneyline, while Rodrigo Nascimento trades as a +130 underdog. If you plan to bet on this or any other fight taking place this weekend, bet responsibly.

Lewis is not at the end of the road yet

A universal storyline ahead of this weekend’s UFC St. Louis main event is the fact that both men last fought on the same night, November 3. Derrick Lewis has posted a 1-4 record in his last five fights.

He most recently dropped a unanimous decision to Jailton Almeida (20-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC). Although β€œThe Black Beast turns 40 next year, he is not even thinking about retirement at the moment.

Saturday’s headliner is the second bout of his current eight-fight deal with the UFC, and he recently discussed his longevity with CBS Sports’ Shakiel Mahjouri.

β€œIt’s nothing on my mind,” Lewis began. β€œMy coaches and other people say, ‘Once you get to 40, everything starts to slow down,’ but this is the best I’ve felt, the last two fights. This is the best I’ve felt leading up to a fight, training camp and all. I feel amazing.”

Will Derrick Lewis add to his UFC record of 14 knockouts with a stoppage this weekend? Tune in to the main event of UFC St. Louis and find out.

Rodrigo Nascimento Ready for the biggest fight of his UFC career on Saturday

In the other corner, Rodrigo Nascimento has posted a 3-1 scoreline with one no-contest in his last fight. He is currently on a four-fight undefeated streak.

Last time out, he scored a unanimous decision victory against Don’Tale Mayes (11-6, 1 NC MMA, 4-4, 1 NC UFC) in the second head-to-head meeting between them in November in Brazil. Saturday’s card marks Nascimento’s first appearance since joining the UFC in the fall of 2020.

β€œI wanted someone in the top fifteen and I think Derrick Lewis is a good name; the best name,” Nascimento said in an interview with UFC.com. β€œI also re-signed my contract, so 2024 was really good for me. This is a good fight, a tough fight, but it’s a good time.”

Analysis, film study and prediction

Stylistically, the main event of UFC St. Louis appears to be a toss-up. Both men hold purple belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Lewis a knockout specialist

As previously mentioned, Derrick Lewis holds the UFC promotional record for most wins by knockout (14) and has scored 22 wins by knockout in his career. In a heavyweight fight, only one strike can end the story. Travis Browne found this out the hard way in 2018.

During the second round of a scheduled five that night, Lewis broke out of a clinch and landed brutal punches on Browne, backing him up against the cage fence. When he took Browne to the canvas, Lewis locked mount, and after one throw, he continued to throw vicious shots.

Even after Browne got back to his feet, Lewis simply dropped him again and scored with repeated punches to the head until referee Mario Yamasaki intervened and stopped the match. If Derrick Lewis lands the first big punch of the UFC St. Louis main event, he can grab the momentum of the fight as soon as it starts.

Nascimento’s ground game can tell the story

In the other corner, Rodrigo Nascimento can cause the upset if he goes to the ground, as he did in his Contender series fight Michal Martinek in 2019. During the first round of a scheduled three, Nascimento secured the top mount and softened Martinek with punches to set up a possible submission.

From then on, Nascimento was in complete control, applying the torque to block a head and arm choke, forcing Martinek to tap out. If Rodrigo Nascimento can put Derrick Lewis on the mat early, he will send shockwaves through the UFC heavyweight division.

Final thoughts

Every time the UFC books a heavyweight fight in the main event, it can be as many as five rounds (or less) of action. Even though the calendar says May 11 on Saturday, it will bring the fireworks as if it were the 4th of July.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis by knockout in the second round.