In his slow but steady climb on the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight ladder, Derrick Lewis has reached the rung upon which Shamil Abdurakhimov stands.
Lewis will face Abdurakhimov in the UFC Fight Night 102 headliner on Friday at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York, where the victor can perhaps move closer to title contention. Meanwhile, Cameroon-born Frenchman Francis Ngannou confronts former Maximum Fighting Championship titleholder Anthony Hamilton in the heavyweight co-main event.
Lewis will enter the cage on the strength of four straight victories. The onetime Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder last competed at UFC Fight Night 90 on July 7, when he was awarded a split decision over Roy Nelson at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Lewis, 31, has compiled a 7-2 record since arriving in the UFC in 2014, losing only to Matt Mitrione and Shawn Jordan.
Abdurakhimov has rattled off back-to-back wins since his Octagon debut ended in a technical knockout defeat to Timothy Johnson in April 2015. The 35-year-old Dagestani brute last fought at UFC Fight Night 96 on Oct. 1, when he claimed a split verdict over Walt Harris at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. Abdurakhimov has delivered 11 of his 17 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
With the Lewis-Abdurakhimov showdown as the centerpiece, here are 10 facts surrounding UFC Fight Night 102, which streams in its entirety to UFC Fight Pass:
FACT 1: According to FightMetric data, Lewis has outpaced his opposition by a 109-18 margin in the significant strikes landed department during his current four-fight winning streak.
FACT 2: Abdurakhimov has nine first-round finishes to his credit.
FACT 3: Hamilton is one of 16 fighters to have captured divisional gold in the now-dormant MFC organization. Ryan Jimmo, Trevor Prangley, Emanuel Newton, Roger Hollett, Victor Valimaki, Sam Alvey, Elvis Mutapcic, Patrick Cote, Nathan Coy, Douglas Lima, Pat Healy, Tom Gallicchio, Graham Spencer, Antonio McKee and Anthony Birchak are the others.
FACT 4: The 30-year-old Ngannou has won his last seven bouts in a total of 37 minutes and 41 seconds.
FACT 5: Strikeforce veteran Gian Villante starred as a linebacker for the Hofstra University football team, earning NCAA All-America honors at the I-AA institution in 2004.
FACT 6: “The Ultimate Fighter 19” winner Corey Anderson has executed 24 takedowns in his seven UFC appearances. He has only been taken down twice.
FACT 7: Trevor Smith wrestled collegiately at Iowa State University.
FACT 8: Roufusport export Gerald Meerschaert has delivered 17 of his 24 professional wins by submission: four by arm-triangle choke, four by guillotine choke, four by rear-naked choke, two by triangle choke, on by kimura, one by neck crank and one by armbar.
FACT 9: Team Tiger Schulmann prospect Shane Burgos has finished all seven of his opponents, five of them inside one round. Their combined record: 37-29.
FACT 10: Former Ring of Combat champion Keith Berish has 33-, 64- and 70-second finishes to his credit.