With MMA at a standstill due to the coronavirus, many fighters most recently scheduled bouts have had to have been postponed or cancelled, but a lucky few managed to fight right before sports were shut down.
Heavyweight Vernon Lewis was one of the lucky ones, managing to fight and pick up a first round win over Austen Lane on the March 6 LFA card; the last before its events were cancelled until the foreseeable future.
“It was probably my best training camp I ever had,” Lewis told MMAWeekly.com. “I had strength and conditioning program I was going through, so I was in very good shape, I had 12 weeks to prepare for the fight, and everything went right.
“As far as the outcome of the fight, when we talked to my coaches, we were like, ‘that was weird,’ because usually it’s one of those things where you have a great training camp and then you lose, or you have a terrible camp or a short notice fight, and I end up winning, so it’s one of those thing where everything worked out perfectly.”
For Lewis the severity of the coronavirus lockdown really hit home when not only did the LFA cancel their events but the UFC also was forced to clear their upcoming slate of events as well.
“I’m not just a fighter, I’m a big fan of MMA, and every week I look forward to a fight. Whether it’s from ONE, Bellator, or local cards, I’m always looking for and watching the fights. So when the UFC bowed down to it, that’s when I knew it was really serious,” said Lewis.
While some fighters’ schedules have completely altered due to social distancing, aside from sparring and rolling sessions, Lewis has always been a solitary trainer, so things have not so much altered for him.
“I would say that 60 to 70-percent of my training is by myself,” Lewis said. “I work in Fort Worth, and my family is in Waco, so I’m going back and forth all the time. So I don’t have a schedule that’s stable enough to meet with a team most of the time. I usually have to schedule certain times of the day to meet with people.
“Of course not being able to spar or go to the gym where they have like a swimming pool or something like that, that’s one of the things that upsets you, but you’ve just got to kind of roll with the punches.”
Also unlike other fighters, Lewis continues to work, being a police officer in Fort Worth, and with that he experiences a city in lockdown every time he goes out on the job.
“This is what I signed up for. It’s what can happen and what you’re obligated to (deal with),” said Lewis. “I’m just grateful that I still have a job I can support my family with. Even though the dangers of my job, I’m sure someone else would love to be in my shoes just to know that the income will still be coming.
“For sure (the lack of people can be unsettling), especially Fort Worth which is busy, especially on the weekends or nighttime. It’s one of those things that it’s something we’ve never dealt with before. This is new to us. The sooner we can adapt to it the better.”