Francis Ngannou’s first fight with Derrick Lewis is one of the oddest scraps the UFC has ever seen. On top of their UFC 226 contest in July 2018 being one of the most boring fights in history, the statistics were equally mind-numbing. The two fighters only threw a combined 100 strikes, each landing an abysmal percentage as Ngannou connected 23 per cent of the time, and Lewis 37 per cent. The fight got so boring some fans – their throats sore from booing – took out their phones and turned on their flashlights like lighters at a rock concert. Commentator Joe Rogan, never one to mince words, summed it up brilliantly: “As little as [Lewis] is doing, he’s just doing more.” Lewis did attempt two takedowns and appeared at fleeting moments to be the aggressor, but let’s be honest: this was not a fight, it was a debacle and an embarrassment. Lewis won on paper, but in actuality, nobody won. The judges found themselves giving him the win by default, simply because neither wanted to engage the other, but Lewis, for a moment or two, looked as if he was at least trying to break from his trance. The fight had shades of Israel Adesanya vs Yoel Romero for a number of reasons. There is no denying Lewis and Ngannou are scary, intimidating fighters. Throwing haymakers with either one of these heavyweights would be like walking onto a highway and trying to dodge traffic. But both were inexplicably hesitant to pull the trigger. Adesanya and Romero did a similar thing – the amount of respect each had for the other’s power ended up doing them both harm in the end. The UFC middleweight champ got the decision over Romero simply because there is an unspoken rule that to beat a champion, you need to convince the judges with a championship performance. Romero thought Adesanya was going to come after him in defending his belt, but “The Last Stylebender” clearly didn’t get the memo and the fight plan got lost in translation. UFC: Volkanovski reveals ‘words’ with Ortega on ‘TUF’, rivalry ‘heating up’ The problem this creates for Ngannou and Lewis’ eventual rematch, which is still awaiting an official date from Dana White, is the sample size is incredibly skewed. Ngannou knows what this feels like for very different reasons – when he first took on Stipe Miocic, in his first crack at the heavyweight title at UFC 220 in January 2018, he was largely untested. He had reeled off six straight victories in the UFC. This included two knockouts, three TKOs and a submission, with impressive victories against Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski and Curtis Blaydes. Only two of the fights made it out of the first round, and the ones that did barely got into the second. But Ngannou had yet to face anyone like Miocic, who at that time was at the peak of his heavyweight prime. A skilled tactician, he was a big, mean blue-collar machine who picked apart fighters with a deft experience and knowledge of the fight game. Up until that point, “The Predator” had literally just beaten up his opponents, wildly throwing caution to the wind with his massive, unprecedented punching power. Miocic exposed his inexperience for all to see, avoiding the first-round explosiveness and then using his wrestling to wear down a tiring Ngannou and ease to a dominant unanimous decision. Ngannou then came back, after tirelessly working on his takedown defence, ground game and cardio, and pummelled Miocic at UFC 260 in March in a pitch perfect example of what can happen when a fighter uses a loss to make themselves stronger. Part of that process for Ngannou was his follow-up fight after being beaten by Miocic – his match against Lewis – which brings us to the end of this heavyweight triangle. Miocic has yet to face Lewis, which might have given us another sampling of what to expect when Ngannou faces off against “The Black Beast” for the second time, but Ngannou is likely to be a different fighter than the one who beat Miocic, given overcoming that mental hurdle has undeniably allowed him to shed yet another level of inexperience. But Lewis and Miocic could not be more different fighters. Lewis has fought 21 times in the UFC and only four of those fights made it to the judges’ scorecards, one of them being Ngannou. Lewis knows if he has any chance of beating Ngannou again, he can’t do what Miocic did and expect to face the same fighter. Ngannou, in trying to prove himself – once again – needs to be careful with Lewis given his punching power, and the fact that if there is one man on the planet who could and would willingly walk into traffic and a haymaker competition with Ngannou, it is Lewis. The best bet is to throw their original fight, if you can even call it that, out the window and look at this like this is the first time they are facing one another. Lewis has won his last four fights, the last two convincing knockout wins against Aleksei Oleinik and Blaydes. White, in trying in vain to get Ngannou squared off against Jon Jones , has clearly gone to his Plan B, but it would be silly to discount Lewis as a stopgap on the Ngannou heavyweight parade. Ngannou is favoured, and in all likelihood, will avenge his loss to Lewis much like he did with Miocic. But this is the UFC and stranger things have happened. If anyone is out and ready to bang knuckles in an all-out brawl looking for a sweet chin music upset, it’s the mercurial, deadpanning, take-no-prisoners, leave-it-all-on-the-table Derrick Lewis. Get ready for a true, blue heavyweight brawl when this rematch rolls around.