Blaydes was already unconscious from the initial impact of the punch as Lewis stuffed a takedown attempt with his fist. But the fight wasn’t over just yet – Lewis jumped down to land two more shots before referee Herb Dean was able to rush into stop the fight with the end coming at the 1:26 mark of the second round.
Afterward, Lewis was shouting at Blaydes’ corner, but it turns out the verbal exchange had nothing to do with any kind of ill feelings or personal grudge being settled in the cage.
“Because his corner, his coaches was talking about, ‘That was bullsh*t.’ I was saying that’s not my fault, that’s Herb Dean’s fault,” Lewis said at the UFC Vegas 19 post-fight press conference.
“I’m going to keep fighting until the referee pulls you off. That’s with anyone. Same thing could happen to me. I’m going to just keep fighting until the referee says stop.”
While there are a long list of highlights that feature one-punch walk off knockouts, Lewis promises that’s never going to be him because he’s just not built that way.
His argument comes from the instructions issued to athletes prior to the event where they are told to continue fighting until the referee tells them to stop. Lewis said that’s what he is always going to do even if it appears his opponent is clearly not mounting a comeback.
“I can’t just turn the switch off just like that,” Lewis said. “I know some fighters could do that, but I can’t do that. I’ve got to wait until the referee pulls you off them, cause you never know what happens. Anything can happen.
“He could turn into ‘Undertaker’ and sit straight up and eat all those shots. You never know. You’ve got to keep going until the referee says chill out.”
The finish also tied Lewis for the most knockouts in UFC history alongside former champion Vitor Belfort with 12 overall.
Entering the record books was the least of his concerns when the fight started as Lewis explained that he felt sluggish during the opening round and he was struggling to get going.
“I couldn’t wake up in there really,” Lewis said. “Like the whole time in the back, the walk to the octagon, the first and second round, my body couldn’t just wake up. I don’t know why. I just didn’t have it today, the energy that I needed to have. I wanted to be more explosive in the first but I couldn’t just pull the trigger.
“But all I was waiting on was just for him to shoot. I didn’t care about anything else. I was just waiting on him to shoot. Throw the uppercut or knee. We knew it was coming.”
Prior to the takedown attempt that led to the knockout, Lewis saw Blaydes starting to find more confidence in his striking, and that only fueled his desire for the finish that much more.
“At the end of the first round I’m like, ‘He’s messing up,’” Lewis said. “That’s what I was saying in my head. His coach was trying to pump his head up – ‘Good, you’re doing good’ –and I’m like all…