Following a few ups and downs to start his UFC tenure, Lewis has been tearing up the heavyweight ranks over the past year, reeling off four consecutive victories that includes names like Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson.
Abdurakhimov had also impressed of late, winning back-to-back bouts over Walt Harris and Anthony Hamilton en route to this fight.
Lewis had a lot of trouble with Abdurakhimov early. The Russian fighter frustrated Lewis, circling and backpedaling out of Lewis’ power range, and then taking advantage of him by catching kicks and taking him to the canvas in all of the first three rounds.
Aside from the takedowns and attacking with a keylock early in the first round, Abdurakhimov did little offensively to mount damage. He relied mainly on a strategy of clinching and pressing Lewis to the fence, and then taking him to the canvas when the opportunity presented itself.
That worked well for Abdurakhimov to control the fight, but he did little to wear on Lewis or to do any damage, other than a punch to the eye early in round two that bothered Lewis for the remainder of the fight.
Not expending much energy, Lewis bided his time until he found the opening he had been waiting for in the fourth round. During a brief exchange, Lewis finally timed his clinch and slid down on Abdurakhimov’s legs, using a double-leg to plant the Russian on his back near the fence.
Lewis immediately began jackhammering punches to the face from side control, but soon moved to full mount, where he opened up with a flurry of alternating punches that forced the referee to stop the fight at the 3:42 mark.
“That was one of my (worste) fights of all time,” Lewsis said in the Octagon, berating his performance. “I didn’t like my performance at all. I tried to pace myself, but that was some (expletive).
“This performance right here was some (expletive), so I’m gonna sit myself down.”
Despite a lackluster showing, Lewis racked his fifth consecutive victory, improving his overall record to 17-4 with 1 no contest. He’s likely to face another step up in competition in his next trip to the Octagon.