Derrick Lewis was in tears when his back seized up on him last year just ahead of a scheduled fight against former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum in a matchup that could have put him into title contender.
Lewis has suffered through back problems for a big part of his UFC career and as bad as things were ahead of his matchup with Werdum, it turns out he was in worse shape inside the cage when staring down knockout artist Mark Hunt in June 2017.
“The worst was still in the Mark Hunt fight. In the second [round], that’s when the back was kicking my butt. I just had to go forward. I couldn’t even go side to side,” Lewis revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly.
“There’s nothing you can really do but stand there. At the end of the Mark Hunt fight, all I could do is stand there. I couldn’t move any more.”
The back pain flared up again ahead of the fight with Werdum and Lewis actually had to be taken out in a wheelchair thanks to the severe pain he was suffering from at the time. According to Lewis it took him two days to start feeling normal again, which only further explains just how bad this back injury has gotten in recent years.
“They say you can fix it with surgery but it’s really muscular. It’s nothing like torn ligaments or spinal, everything is all muscular. They say that really stretching and getting deep tissue massages and stuff like that will really help it,” Lewis explained.
“I’ve got to stretch my ass off. I really don’t stretch much so lately I’ve been doing a lot of stretching so it’s been helping a lot.”
Lewis’ well documented back problems even earned him a call from former professional wrestler “Diamond” Dallas Page, who reinvented himself in recent years as a yoga guru. Thanks to decades spent in the wrestling ring where athletes abuse their bodies upwards of 300 nights per year, Page found that yoga was a key in helping him regain mobility and get rid of so many daily aches and pains.
Lewis says that Page reached out to him to ask about doing “DDP Yoga” and it’s something he’s considered but hasn’t started yet.
“Everyone is trying to get me to do yoga. DDP — Diamond Dallas Page — he contacted me, too, and wanted me to get down with him, too with yoga. I’ve thought about it,” Lewis said.
For now, Lewis is listening to his doctors and doing exactly what they tell him to do in regards to stretching and warming up his muscles before any workout. Obviously, Lewis plans to carry that same advice into his fight against Marcin Tybura this weekend as he look to get back into the win column after being forced to sit out for the second half of 2017 due to injury.
“The back is something that’s going to be there for a while. Either I can work through the pain or I can’t so basically I’m just going to work through it,” Lewis explained. “It’s better than when I had to pull out [of a fight] before. It’s getting better each and every day. I’m able to move around a lot more than I was before.”
Lewis hopes to jump start his run back to the title with this fight against Tybura and then hopefully he can get one more win over a top ranked heavyweight to put him into position to face the winner of the upcoming bout between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.
He had that same plan going into the fight with Werdum but Lewis is happy to earn his way back with these next two matchups in 2018.
“[Francis] Ngannou fought for the title and I should have been the guy that’s fighting for the title right now if everything went as planned,” Lewis said. “I should have been the guy next in line for the title. I know I could beat [Fabricio] Werdum and everything goes good with this fight, hopefully I’ll get past Tybura and I’ll fight Werdum and Stipe will give me the title shot or I’ll fight Francis and see if they give me the title shot after that.”