Derrick Lewis thought Popeyes was key to longevity, believes he’s in his prime ahead of UFC St. Louis

Derrick Lewis changed things up and he’s feeling better than ever.

On Saturday, Lewis competes for the 41st time as a pro when he fights Rodrigo Nascimento in the heavyweight headliner of UFC St. Louis. “The Black Beast” turned 39 this past February and though he’s mired in a slump following a recent loss to Jailton Almeida, he’s confident the best version of himself will show up in the octagon on fight night.

“I’m feeling great right now,” Lewis said. “I actually really feel like this is my prime. Whenever I was in my 20s, early 30s, I didn’t feel as good. Now, I’m feeling fantastic right now.”

“I felt like I came in in great shape for that fight. The only thing that was bothering me, I tore both my shoulders the week before the fight. After I signed, I said yeah I’ll accept the fight, then a few days later I tore both my shoulders doing stupid jiu-jitsu drills. My rotator cuffs on both sides, so I couldn’t really push off or throw a punch, even throwing an uppercut it hurt. And the week of the fight, that Monday, I had two ear infections in my left ear and my right ear at the same time. I didn’t get over that until three weeks after the fight.”

Lewis took the fight with Almeida at UFC Sao Paulo on less than a month’s notice and went on to lose a dull decision that saw Almeida smother him on the ground for five rounds. By the end, neither man’s stock rose.

Not only is Lewis confident that he’s injury-free heading into the Nascimento fight, he also credits improvements in his diet for possibly extending his career.

“At first I thought it was Popeye’s, but now they’re telling me that it’s not a good idea for me to be eating Popeye’s whenever, I’m almost 40,” Lewis said when asked about the secret to his longevity. “So I don’t know, I don’t know what it is. My nutrition, it’s been a rough road, I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. But I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just because I’m a big guy.”

In his past five fights, Lewis has scored just one win, with a 33-second knockout of Marcos Rogerio de Lima preceded by a trio of setbacks to Serghei Spivac, Sergei Pavlovich, and Tai Tuivasa. Lewis did not make it past the second round in any of those losses.

Though Lewis has given no indication that he plans to retire anytime soon, he is keeping an open mind when it comes to what’s next for him, including possibly working with the UFC’s sister company, WWE.

“We actually in talks right now,” Lewis said. “We’ve been talking for a few months now. I was supposed to go down there in February to check everything out.”

When asked what his signature move might be in pro wrestling, he made a reference to retired WWE big man Rikishi, who was famous for rubbing his behind in his opponents’ faces.

“It would have to be something like Rikishi,” Lewis said. “You might see it. Somehow, I like taking off my shorts, so you might see something like that.”

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