UFC Vegas 68: Sergey Spivac defuses Derrick Lewis' power, scores 1st-round submission

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 04: (R-L) Serghei Spivac of Moldova punches Derrick Lewis in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 04, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(R-L) Sergey Spivac made it look easy in his first-round submission of Derrick Lewis at UFC Apex on Saturday in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The referee who had been Derrick Lewis' nemesis was nowhere to be found. Lewis was fighting in Las Vegas, not in his hometown of Houston, where he experienced so much pressure trying to put on a show for the home folks.

And still, it was not enough for the UFC's all-time knockout leader, who lost yet again, this time at Apex in the main event of UFC 68.

Sergey Spivac mauled Lewis and eventually forced him to tap to an arm triangle at 3:05 of the first round. Lewis entered the bout having lost two in a row and three of his last four, but complained that he was the victim of early stoppages by referee Dan Miragliotta.

Lewis, though, had no answer for Spivac, a combat sambo fighter from the Republic of Moldova. Spivac took Lewis down with a hip toss early, and then never gave up the body lock. Lewis would work to his feet and Spivac would fling him back to the canvas.

It was a brilliant plan and led to the biggest win of his career.

"He fought two times for the title and I love him," Spivac said of Lewis. "But today is my time. 'Polar Bear' is here."

Pressed to call out an opponent for his next fight, Spivac laughed and said he wants Jon Jones. The legendary Jones is a former UFC light heavyweight champion who meets Ciryl Gane in March for the vacant heavyweight belt.

Spivac knows he's not going to get either Jones or Gane next, but he's on the move upward.

Lewis, though, faces a murky future. He's 37, and he entered the fight having been knocked out three times in his previous four fights by Gane, Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich.

He didn't get knocked out this time, but he had little to offer Spivac and faces a tumble down the rankings and likely out of the top 10.

At 37 and trying to fight off the worst streak of his career, he has a lot to ponder as he moves forward.